'Just a wonderful day': National Day of Prayer turns into worship experience in Ashland

May 2—ASHLAND — The annual National Day of Prayer event turned into a full-on worship experience on Thursday morning at the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center.

As Rev. Dr. Scott Hill delivered his closing comments to help put a bow on the 26th installment, Rev. Johnny Riley interjected his thoughts.

"Best ever!" Riley shouted.

Area talent was on full display as Marlana VanHoose, Stephen Thomas and Brandy York captivated community members with stirring renditions of worship songs in addition to original numbers.

When VanHoose, of Paintsville, sat behind the piano following a prayer by Jason Camp, the blind 28-year-old cheered for a higher power and said she was "blown away" by what had transpired to that point.

The 96-minute event included prayers pertaining to the seven pillars of community influence — military, government, family, business, education, arts & entertainment and religion.

Hill, of UK King's Daughters, invited folks to write prayer requests on Post-Its to attach to the board containing each pillar item.

John McKinney wrote "for the church to be bold" on his note, which he placed on the "religion" board.

McKinney and Mike Varju, both members of Bridges Christian Church in Russell, attend the event annually.

"It was wonderful," Varju said. "The attitude of the people, the spirit of the Lord, just a wonderful day."

Said McKinney: "This may have been one of the best ones I've seen. With the singers and the music, God gives us that talent to pull us into Him, I believe. It was very well done, excellent."

Thomas sang contemporary worship favorites "Reckless Love," "Great Are You, Lord," "O Come to the Altar" and "Way Maker" as attendees rose to their feet and many lifted hands skyward.

VanHoose went off the beaten path by singing the fourth verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

One lyric VanHoose later voiced was "I've been blind since birth, but don't feel sorry for me ... Jesus, my savior, is the first face I'll see." She also sang the hymn "He Touched Me."

Ashland Mayor Matt Perkins presented VanHoose with a "key to the city" during the introductory ceremony.

York penned an original suited to follow Riley's prayer pertaining to military and government. It was inspired by her husband, Grant York, who served in the Marine Corps. She later sang "The Blessing."

Crabbe Elementary Principal Uriah Tolbert and Father Andrew Garner joined Camp and Riley in delivering prayers on various pillars. Rev. Stanley McDonald gave an invocation and read from Romans 12 during the introductory portion.

UK King's Daughters provided breakfast.

Hill, who repeated a comical but fitting phrase from a former pastor — "gooder and gooder," as opposed to better — throughout the morning. Before he wrapped up, Hill said he felt "revived and refreshed."

Just as Hill did a little after 8 a.m., Garner recited scripture from 2 Samuel 22 at just after 9:30 to conclude Thursday's event, which had a "Lift up the Word, light up the world" theme.

In 2 Samuel, verse 29 (NIV) states "You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light."

According to Hill, about 150 people attended the event.

(606) 326-2664 — asnyder@dailyindependent.com