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Locals gather to recognize 58th National Day of Prayer in Cape

By Staff | May 8, 2009

In an event held Thursday at City Hall observing the 58th National Day of Prayer, Cape Coral leaders added a new request to their list of petitions to the heavens — economic recovery.
Another prayer during the interdenominational event asked for celestial guidance for national, state and local leaders, but the overall theme of the prayers centered around a rebound in the wake of a dismal economic year.
“When I first ran for public office, I said, ‘We’re going to have the worst two years this city has ever seen,'” Mayor Jim Burch said before reading a proclamation about the National Day of Prayer.
“It’s been that bad and worse for many people,” he said.
Fire Chief Bill Van Helden advised a return to the spiritual realm rather than focusing on material goods, but also asked for help and guidance for people in need.
“We put our hope in everything but (God), in institutions, people and Wall Street, things that were destined to fail us,” he said.
“We pray for those in this community who are distraught. I pray (God) provides for those who have lost jobs,” Van Helden added.
Established in 1952 by President Harry Truman and specified as the first Thursday in May by former President Ronald Reagan, the National Day of Prayer has never witnessed the country in such an economic crisis.
The day was celebrated in 40,000 different events across the country last year, and has been observed in the Cape since 2000.
In Cape Coral, the event started as a small prayer breakfast before blossoming into a more popular evening prayer observance.
“It used to be a thing where the (city) employees would come out, then we grew it to about 400 people and had it in the evening,” Councilmember Gloria Tate said.
About 75 people attended the event Thursday.
The Rev. Dennis Gingerich, of Cape Christian Fellowship, said this year’s day of prayer had a “theme of hope.”
“We all know how much we need that, not only within our own city, but nationally,” he said.
Councilmember Dolores Bertolini said the day was about the Cape’s community spirit.
“This is a great day of people getting together, and we can really use it,” she said.