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Local faith leaders and community members observed the national tradition earlier this month.

PHOTO: BLAIR STENVICK - Susan Zwingli leads a prayer for family at the eighth annual King City National Day of Prayer service.About 25 community members gathered for the eighth annual King City National Day of Prayer service last month.

The event, held at the King City Civic Association clubhouse on May 3, was in conjunction with 30,000 other events happening around the country on that day. The National Day of Prayer has roots in colonial New England, and President Harry S. Truman declared it an official observance in 1952.

Since 1982, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a non-profit arm of the evangelical Christian National Prayer Committee, has determined annual themes and furnished materials for services.

This year's national theme was "Unity," based on Bible verse Ephesians 4:3, which reads, "Making every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace."

Representatives from several Christian churches in the area attended and took part in the service. It was led by Paul Hailey, the leader of the King City Lion's Club and a local Bible study group.

Mayor Ken Gibson attended the service and gave opening remarks.

"Everything we do and everything we have, we have to keep God in the forefront of that," he said.

Hailey invited different people to say a prayer for different facets of American life: business, the military, the media, churches, government, family and education.

The military prayer was led by Ron Fritch, a veteran of the Navy. He prayed for timely military causes like reliving Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and securing proper funding for Veterans' Administration hospitals.

"We look forward to a day when our military is not needed, Lord," he added.

Mary Clyburn, a member of Portland Christian Church, prayed for education. She invoked recent school shootings — such as a February shooting in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 people dead — in her prayer.

"We pray for the victims and their families, and the perpetrators and their families also," Clyburn said.

Pastor Dee Bulante of Grace Communion Fellowship in Tigard delivered the homily.

The service's music included a mix of patriotic and religious songs: "America, the Beautiful," "Yankee Doodle," "Sweet Hour of Prayer," "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and "God Bless America." Bob Hamlin led the singing, with Elisabeth Hampton accompanying on the piano.

In his closing remarks, Hailey said that America "has serious problems," which government and politics cannot fix.

"America needs a spiritual awakening, an that can only begin with us," Hailey said. "Prayer precedes any great movement of God. As Christians, let's keep praying."

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