At a time when school violence is becoming more commonplace, a group of 35 people of various Christian denominations gathered this past week at Loudon High School for an evening prayer walk around the property.
After the walk, participants laid hands on the school entrance to pray blessings over teachers, students and all who enter.
The participants were from several churches. The walk was begun with a short reading of Scripture by Johnny Walker, a member of New Providence Baptist Church. The Rev. Ronnie Davis, pastor of Poplar Springs Baptist, spoke and led the group in prayer before the walk began.
The group was smaller than those who attended last year, but organizers Melissa Tallent of Lenoir City and Sheila Massey of Loudon were not disappointed. They said they still counted the event a success.
"We started with just two women, so this is wonderful," Tallent said. "The size of the group does not matter. The point is to pray for our schools, and we are doing that."
Massey said some people who could not attend the walk and be there physically had committed to pray at that time. The crowd was smaller than expected, but confusion about the date and conflicts may have been an issue, Massey said. "We had several churches that had revivals going on, too," she said.
Participants’ prayers were not only for the physical safety of the young people who will be educated there, but also for protection of their minds and spirits.
"We’re going to pray over our schools to hold the devil back," Walker said. "We must continue to be faithful. ... We may be few, but we need to take a stand for our children."
Tony Arnold, from New Prospect Baptist Church, said the prayer walk is an expression of faith in God.
"We have sealed up this place in prayer," Arnold said. "The people here and passersby are not the only ones to see it. The hosts of heaven and God see the faithful. We are not saying God can protect this place. We are saying we believe God will do that."