Newton County students and instructors, including, seated from left, Ian Krieger of Cousins Middle School, Brinley Doss of East Newton Elementary School, Raven Cosby of Covington First Presbyterian Preschool, Anderson Krieger of Flint Hill Elementary School, standing from left, home school student Buddy Johnson, Emily Gainer of Providence Christian School, Oak Hill Elementary School teacher Jeff Johnson, William Gunn of Eastside High School, Newton Theme School teacher Katie Sauls, Addie Consuegra of Covington First United Methodist Preschool, Amber Garner of Cousins Middle School, and Delaney Holcombe of Newton County Theme School, are looking forward to the "Community on our Knees" school prayer event on the Square in Covington on Aug. 11.
Taking the message from Christian music artist Toby Mac's hit song, "City On Our Knees," church leaders in Newton County have announced the first Community On Our Knees day of prayer and evening celebration on the square in Covington Saturday, Aug. 11.
An invitation has been extended to all area churches, students, parents, school administrators, teachers, bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria workers, elected officials and others associated with schools and students in Newton County to join together for a day of prayer for the upcoming school year.
"The first thing that's at the top of our list is safety in our schools," said Covington First United Methodist Church Youth Pastor Jennifer Morganthall. Her church initiated the idea of getting the local community together for a day of prayer for the students and schools.
A prayer wall is being constructed on the square for the August event and anyone may come to the square that day and pray, as well as leave written prayer requests. Strips of fabric will be available for people to write their prayer requests on and then they may tie them to the crosses. Beginning at 9 a.m. that day, different churches and youth groups will be on the square at assigned times to offer prayers.
At 7 p.m., everyone is invited to come to the square for a time of prayer, music, fellowship and to show their school and community pride. The Church at Covington Praise Band will lead the music and special prayers will be said for the new school year.
At the conclusion of the event, everyone will join hands and form a circle around the square.
"Last year, our children's department did a prayer walk throughout the county where they went and physically prayed for each school in the county," said Morganthall.
"I've been talking to other youth pastors in the county in looking for ways we can work together on different projects. Through conversation we said, 'Why not one big event on the square open to all churches?' We're inviting everyone -- kids from public, private and home schools. We're making it one evening event with music and hopefully it will be the beginning of many more."
Morganthall said everyone is excited about the community event and churches from denominations across the county are participating. Plans are also in the works for an October event to involve the community's churches.
First Presbyterian Church of Covington's Youth Director Dan Walden said he is excited about the upcoming "Community On Our Knees celebration.
"The idea is to bring everybody together to not only celebrate the beginning of the school year, but to ask God's blessings on the teachers and the staff, the administration, school board, public, private and home schools," he said.\
"We seek to have a very inclusive event, inclusive of all the churches and inclusive of all the schools... We are focusing on a common goal and a common God."
Walden said the day of prayer and celebration is an important and timely event for the community.
"In Newton County in particular, we've seen a lot of what some people are calling dysfunction," he said.
"The school board and school system have got a lot of press in recent months. We would like to spin this whole thing in a positive direction. We believe that prayer is a positive force. We would like to bring the power of God Almighty into the mix of this to straighten things out and move forward as a community. We need more solidarity... It's time for us to come together."
Everyone including children of all ages are invited to come with their families and churches to participate in Community On Our Knees. Participants are encouraged to wear their school colors, school sports shirts or shirts featuring their school name.
"In general, kids experience the same things throughout the generations," Walden said. "Kids today are more isolated in some ways because they spend more time alone or with a small group of friends. They're indoors on the computer and spend less time with a communal large group of kids. It's a challenge to get kids together outside the house.
"But in terms of the things kids face, the context changes. Kids are kids. Kids have always faced the issues of bullying, the issues of alcohol and drugs and the dangers of unsafe driving. It's really just context and today's context is different."
For more information, call 770-786-7305.
Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Snellville. If you have a story idea, email Karen J. Rohr, features editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.