Community Prayer Service highlights helping others

Published 9:32 am Monday, January 8, 2024

As a yearly tradition, the Community Prayer Service has occurred in Winchester.

On Saturday, Jan. 6th, 2024, at First United Methodist Church on 204 S. Main Street, many residents gathered to send thoughts and prayers for the new year to improve Clark County and assist others.

Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed spoke to open the service.

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“We’re here to pray [and] to remember all the people in our lives [and] in our community that need help, and love, and prayer, including ourselves,” she said.

In addition to Reed, those present for the service included former Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner and his wife, Carolyn, City Commissioner Kitty Strode, City Manager Mike Flynn, Magistrate Robert Blanton, Clark County Detention Center Jailer Frank Doyle, Clark County Sheriff Will Perdue, Clark County Coroner Neal Oliver and Clark County PVA Jada Brady.

While prayers were still universal for the people and professionals community-wide, the presented order was slightly different than in previous years.

Whereas prior services mentioned specific careers – such as teachers or military officials – Saturday’s edition mentioned particular issues that individuals from the community might be challenged by.

Those listed were addictions, homelessness and housing insecurity, hopelessness and suicide, abuse, and others in distress.

Speakers included Lindsay Horseman, director of Recovery Community Services at Recovery Community Center, and Steven and Kelly Slone of Kingdom Mission Outreach.

Speaking on the topic of addiction, Susan and Joe Oliver recounted the struggles of their son’s battle with the disease and how they faced it as parents.

“Satan will tell you so many lies, [such as], ‘You’re a terrible parent. Whatever you do is not good enough,’” said Joe Oliver.

After eight months of rehabilitation, their son recovered, went to and graduated from college, and is now the father of two young sons.

“I know so many tragic stories…we are very, very blessed,” Oliver added.

Sherry Nichols, who went through multiple battles with severe clinical depression, talked about the necessity of having support and overcoming any negative stigma.

“I think that one of the biggest things is for people to be able to talk about it and to break the silence,” Nichols said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as sending that text, writing an email, reaching out to someone needing love.”

Sherri Clem, who sadly grew up in an abusive environment, has since become an ordained minister and owns Amazing Grace Hair Salon on Boone Avenue.

“I am fully trusting [God] and believing he’s got me. Every day is a new adventure for me, learning how to adult as a fifty-year-old woman,” Clem said. “It does have many challenges, but God has seen me through each and every one of them.”

In addition to speakers, the community prayer service included different music selections.

Among them were “For the Healing of Our Nations” by Fred Kaan, John Francis Wade, and Randall DeBruyn, and the hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.”

Offering the benediction, First United Methodist Church Teddy Poore spoke some final thoughts.

“I’m so delighted that we are focused on you [all] today,” Poore said. “Prayer is powerful.”