'God is still in control': Owensboro celebrates National Day of Prayer

The weather was approaching the mid-80s late Thursday morning when hundreds of people began gathering onto the lawn of the Daviess County Courthouse for the 73rd annual National Day of Prayer.

For the city of Owensboro, which has been celebrating the occasion locally for over 30 years, the observance saw its fair share of repeat attendees and first-timers.

Owensboro resident Sharon Tucker, who arrived an hour before the event started, was sporting a T-shirt with the phrase “Jesus is # 1” — something she firmly believes in.

“Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that brings freedom and joy in people’s lives,” she said. “It’s life-changing knowing the Lord.”

Tucker, who’s come to the local celebration “for a long time,” finds days like Thursday are especially important when considering the current climate of the country.

“Our America is in a trying time right now; and this right here — God’s people getting together and reading the Bible, the word of God is powerful … (is) life-changing,” Tucker said regarding the growing crowd in front of the courthouse. “This is just a magnificent time of the year that we all look forward to, to get to be together … and sharing the word of God to others and up to Lord.

“That changes things, and it changes America and that is what we drastically need right now.”

Besides enjoying the overall event, Tucker looks forward to seeing the number of people coming through continuing to grow.

“... The crowd is getting bigger every year,” she said. “You’re seeing new faces when you come out … and that is a blessing ….”

One of those new faces included Charles “Chuck” Mabrey of Thruston, who found a shady spot to sit next to George Lundeen’s man-and-woman bronze statue “Hometown” that faces West Second Street.

“I didn’t even know about it till this year,” he said.

A U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War that worked in communications, Mabrey said he’s been on a spiritual journey since the passing of his wife, Joyce Marie Mabrey, in February 2022 after 53 years of marriage.

“Since then, I’ve really been trying my way to Christ,” he said.

Mabrey has been attending Pleasant Valley Community Church and said he became “the oldest person to be baptized” there when he was 74.

“I’ve been going steady for at least three years,” Mabrey, now 76, said. “I miss a Sunday every now-and-then and I always try to make sure I have enough money in the bank to have an offering ….”

President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States on April 17, 1952, before President Ronald Reagan amended the law in 1988 to make the day occur on the first Thursday of May each year.

The local event — organized by a local National Day of Prayer committee — which was split up into two segments, started with the “Circle of Good News” Bible reading for 20 minutes where attendees read their assigned-upon-arrival Bible verses simultaneously, followed by a prayer and worship service complete with music, speakers and various prayers focused on the church and repentance, family, government and military, education, business, media and spiritual warfare.

Rick Rhodes, long-time committee member, said he and the group believe the National Day of Prayer is “the most important day for our country.”

“If we can just take the time to get back to the roots that we were founded on,” he said. “Whether some people like it or not, we were founded on Christian values and we want to get back to that.

“The country does seem to be in a mess and it kind of is, but God is still in control. Nothing surprises Him; He’s got this, we just have to rely on Him.”

Rhodes, who has also expressed his excitement with the growing crowd each year, hopes the event can help people build relationships with God.

“If this will help do that, then we’ve accomplished everything that we need to accomplish,” he said. “It’s a relationship with a loving, living God. Jesus is just as alive today as He was 2,000 years ago when He was walking this earth.

“He lives in our hearts and it’s all about knowing Him, and serving Him and loving Him and loving and serving His people as well.”

Before starting her assigned passage for the Bible read, Tucker opened up her own Bible book — which was full of multicolored highlights, handwritten notes and some tape throughout the pages — to the front page which included a picture of her on her wedding day and a candid shot of her husband of 28 years, Charlie Tucker.

She finds having those photographs right when she opens her Bible serves as a meaningful reminder.

“Having a Christian marriage is vital; and when Charlie and I got married, we went through some hard times and we’d always (gone) to church but we really (weren’t) living it like we should. … We rededicated our lives to the Lord and this right here happened,” she said gesturing to the photos. “Walking with the Lord in your marriage means everything and it changes everything.”