Lodi's National Day of Prayer observance Thursday was marked by pleas from religious and other community leaders to pray for an increasingly troubled world.
Pastors and their guests at the twilight ceremony at Lodi's All-Veterans Plaza offered prayers to federal, state and local leaders, the nation's youth, and future leaders and veterans. One pastor, Frank Nolton of New Hope Community Church, urged prayers to restore the morality that is missing in the United States.
The Lodi observance didn't feature a cross-section of Christians. It was marked by the more conservative churches.
"A lot of people are scared for our world," sad Pastor Matt Duerr of Zion Reformed Church on Ham Lane.
Duerr called for all Christians to ask their family and friends to pray for the world.
Former Lodi Mayor Phil Pennino acknowledged the historical success of the nation's balance of power — the executive, legislative and judicial branches — but he thinks that has changed.
"By and large, I think the American people have forgotten that," Pennino said.
Noting that San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel was the only elected official present at the Day of Prayer observance, Pennino invited attendees to put their hands on Vogel's shoulders while praying to God for county leaders to make wise decisions.
Pennino also asked God to give President Barack Obama, U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and the Lodi area's federal and state representatives strength and guidance on a daily basis.
"Without you, we'd have no guidelines," Pennino told God.
Kevin Suess, associate pastor at Vinewood Community Church, prayed for two groups of people — the homeless, and Christians overseas who are arrested and subject to torture for being a Christian.
"Their only 'crime' is that they won't renounce Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord," Suess said.
Other participants offering prayers were Pastor Chris Townsend of Emanuel Lutheran Church; Father Michael Kelly of St. Joachim's Catholic Church in Lockeford; and David Couchman, principal of Jim Elliot Christian High School.
Willys Nitschke Jr., an Emanuel member, led the singing of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" and "God Bless America." Boy Scout Troop 209 presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony, and dancers Kayla and Dazzmanae Newman from New Covenant Tabernacle Church performed a Christian song.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.