FARMINGTON — If the nation were to return to God, there would be less violence, according to local community and religious leaders who prayed at National Day of Prayer at the Farmington Civic Center on Thursday.
President Abraham Lincoln designated a National Day of Prayer 150 years ago. A 1952 law formalized the observance. On the first Thursday of May, people across the country gather to pray for the country's leaders, education system, families and businesses.
Gloria Wendeborn, a member of World Harvest Church gave a prayer for families and for marriage at Farmington's celebration. She said the National Day of Prayer is an opportunity to "cry out to God to have mercy on the nation."
Carol Parga attended National Day of Prayer with her husband, who helped lead the music.
"God hears our prayers," Parga said.
She said the Christians gathered to lift up different issues "asking for God's help to cover us."
Wendeborn said the nation was founded with freedom of religion being one of the important basic rights. However, in recent years, Wendeborn said the Christians have been persecuted as the nation moved away from God, removing him from the classrooms and courtrooms. Because of this, the nation has been weakened, she said.
"God has rolled back some of his protective hand," Wendeborn said.
Eden Fine, a local youth pastor, said he has seen a loss of moral compass in today's youth, which has created an increase in murders and teen pregnancies.
"Kids are running to gangs rather than their families because they have no families," Fine said.
Raymond Dunton, a pastor at Ignacio Community Church and Wings of Freedom, gave the opening prayer.
"We realize we need healing in this nation," Dunton said during the prayer.
Dunton said after the service that the healing needs to start with the individual because then it can extend outward, healing families, communities and ultimately the nation.
After national tragedies, Dunton said the nation seems to come together.
"It seems like it's not long lasting," he said.
Once the peace returns, the biases return as well, Dunton said.
Dunton said people of faith need to walk together and "focus on the things we have in common."
Hannah Grover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover