'God Belongs in My City'
The crowd at Saturday’s “God Belongs in My City” march was significantly smaller than last year during the innaugural Sanford procession, but spirits were still high as the group called on regular and powerful people alike to let their decisions be guided by God.
Wearing shirts — some in English, others in Spanish — proclaiming the town’s need for God, about 150 people marched at 10 a.m. from the Kiwanis Family Park down Carthage Street and into Depot Park downtown. They then split into groups and gathered to pray around members of the youth group of the event’s sponsor, Grace Chapel Ministries, who were holding signs exhorting people to pray for everything from Congress and President Barack Obama to the Sanford City Council, Gov. Pat McCrory and more. The biggest groups congregated at prayer stations for schools and the economy.
Joel Murr, the Grace Chapel youth pastor, said he thought last year’s event accomplished the goal of getting more people to think about God more in their daily lives, and that he’s hoping this year’s march continues that trend.
But while he and his brother Tim organized much of last year’s march, Murr said that this year it fell largely upon the shoulders of three former Grace youth ministry participants who have since gone on to various Bible colleges: Billy Terhune and brothers Jack and Justin Gerrell.
“They’ve done a great job stepping up,” Murr said.
Terhune spoke at the end, calling on the marchers back up their actions Saturday with constant effort.
“This prayer walk isn’t just a social thing,” he said. “... I want everyone to realize we are the hands and feet of God, and we need to spread his message.”
Terhune continued on, getting some applause when he proclaimed they just “gave the Devil a sucker-punch,” and told the crowd to wear their shirts more than just this one time, and advance the message wherever and whenever they could — at school, work and more.
Larry and Janice Fraley, who attend Grace Chapel, said they were proud to be part of the event — and that while Sanford is far from devoid of Christian faith, it could always use more.
“We want to pray for our leaders,” Larry Fraley said, later adding: “I think the churches here do a good job reaching the lost from Christ.”
But his wife Janice pointed out that churches can only do as much work as they have people to do it — and that number might be dwindling.
“I heard a statistic the other day that only about 50 percent of people in Sanford attend church regularly,” she said. “I don’t know the basis of that, I just heard it second-hand. But either way, we do need more people coming to church and praying.”