Hallelujahs were shouted, hands were raised and stories were told about how the Gainesville Prayer Band had impacted lives and churches for the past 64 years.
On Saturday, Antioch Baptist Church was host to the 64th anniversary of the Gainesville Prayer Band.
Started in 1950 by Blanche Alexander, the prayer band began by meeting in different members homes, according to Peggy Johnson. Alexander wanted the Prayer Band to reach all of the Gainesville community, and knew it would have to also go to all of the white churches.
Alexander then asked Ruby Brawner to take over in the event that the Lord called her home. Brawner took over in 1983, when Alexander died.
In April of 1995, the Prayer Band went to First Baptist Church on Green Street. It was the first all-white church the Prayer Band attended.
Now, the group still is headed by Brawner and travels to 12 local churches the first Sunday each month.
“The Prayer Band is made up of about 15 members. These members are from all different churches, black and white,” Brawner said.
The band visits churches such as First Baptist on Green Street, Westminster Church, New Life Baptist Church and St. Paul United Methodist Church.
“We are recruiting. We need every voice. We just worship and praise God. We ask the community to come in and worship with us,” Johnson said.
At the anniversary celebration, 14 year-old Cash Laws sang three songs. The audience was impressed with his voice.
“Ms. Ruby invited me to sing today. I am not a member of the Prayer Band, but I go to school with Ruby’s granddaughter,” said Cash, an eighth-grader at Awa White Academy in Gainesville.
Also in attendance were Norcross Prayer Band, Good News at Noon ministries, members of First Baptist on Green Street and many others.
The Rev. Dr. Bill Coates delivered the message at the celebration.
“Sometimes I don’t feel like the Lord hears me, but I don’t think the Lord can help but hear Ruby Brawner and the Prayer Band,” Coates said.
After the celebration, a meal was served at the church. Many who attended gathered to fellowship and eat together.
“Antioch helps Good News at Noon a lot. Ruby told us about the event, and we are happy to be here,” said Fletcher Law, pastor of Good News at Noon shelter in Gainesville.
Vickie Baker, the oldest member of the Prayer Band, according to Brawner, said, “Ruby is just wonderful. I have been with the Prayer Band for a long time. It is such a blessing.”