Victorians gather for National Day of Prayer (w/video)

DID YOU KNOW?

• DESIGNATED VERSE: The 2014 verse is "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:6

• The first National Day of Prayer bill was signed into law on April 17, 1952.

• In 1988, it was designated the first Thursday in May.

• All 50 United States and U.S. territories proclaim a National Day of Prayer.

• The Continental Congress first declared a day of prayer, in praying for a new nation, in 1775.

• George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer in 1795.

SOURCE: Religioustolerance.org and nationaldayofprayer.org

A crowd gathered 'round the DeLeon Plaza gazebo at the noon hour Thursday and stood at the Rev. Larry Green's request.

From behind a lectern, he made a literal request - for the prayerful group to stand up for family values.

"United we stand, divided we fall," said Green, the newly elected president of Strong Families of Victoria. "We are the families of Victoria, and we have to stand strong. ... We cannot let the world destroy our families."

Green's organization, previously helmed by Raymond Smith, hosts a National Day of Prayer gathering each year in the downtown square.

The ecumenical call to prayer has been observed by Americans in an official capacity since 1952, when the U.S. Congress designated the first Thursday in May as National Day of Prayer.

And while the program followed the traditional prayer schedule - including pastors of area churches praying for assigned, designated items - Thursday's prayer event announced the changeover in Strong Families' leadership.

"I'm 87 years old," Smith said, explaining his decision to take a more peripheral role in the organization. "My health isn't great, and I just don't have the energy."

With Green as president, he said he plans to continue preaching the group's message about the necessity of strong, God-fearing families led by fathers and mothers who are willing to be positive, biblical examples for their children.

"They'll say Pastor Larry Green is against the gay movement, against the lesbian movement, but no, I'm against sin," Green announced to the crowd. "For God, I'll live. For sin, I'll die."

Green emphasized Strong Families will also be outspoken during his tenure about not supporting abortion, violence in the home, unemployed men or the sale and use of illegal drugs.

"Let's be the families we're supposed to be," he said. "The church should not just be rising up in times of trouble. The church should always be rising."

Green, who works as a chaplain with Hospice of South Texas, also pastors two churches: God's Church of Victoria and God's Church of Grace in Port Lavaca.

Nancy Watts, of Victoria, attended the event and said she enjoyed the communal prayer time Thursday and the announcement of Strong Families' leadership change.

"It's just a need we have to put Christ first in our life," said Watts, a retired educator, about why she attended the National Day of Prayer. "As a believer in Christ, I'm not ashamed to support Christian events in prayer that benefit our city, our state and our government."

Green said he was pleased to be affiliated with Strong Families and take over the annual prayer rally. But he added that if Christians prayed with regularity and showed interest in church, there would be no need for such a day.

"You have a National Day of Prayer to remember that we should be praying," he said. "If we all lived it instead of talked about it, we wouldn't need National Day of Prayer."