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Clairton prays for peace

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 4:32 a.m.
Bishop Thelma Jean Mitchell of Living Waters International Church welcomes city pastors and residents from all denominations to the Prayers Over Clairton event Monday at city hall. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Clairton pastors and church-goers join in a chorus of 'God Bless America' during Monday's Prayers Over Clairton event at city hall. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Singing 'The World Needs a Friend Like Jesus' during Monday's Prayers Over Clairton event, from left, are Dorcas Rumble, Eileen Nolfi and pastor David Nolfi of the Church of Jesus Christ. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Attendees of Monday's Prayers over Clairton event raise their hands as they ask God to answer prayer petitions for the city's youth, working people and elderly. Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News

Clairton pastors, officials and residents are asking for peace in the New Year.

City hall opened its doors to more than 40 guests Monday evening for the annual Prayers Over Clairton, a non-denominational interfaith service intended to bring hope for the city's future.

“We don't know what the new year will hold,” Bishop Thelma Jean Mitchell of Living Waters International Church said. “But God, we know if you hold our hand, we will not fail.”

Attendees prayed for the government, economy, education, families and churches, asking that God's grace be shown to the people of Clairton.

“Forgive us of the past,” Elder Nathaniel Williams of Living Waters said. “And as you equipped us, help us to equip others.”

Pastor David Nolfi of the Church of Jesus Christ prayed that God give city residents the strength to rebuke the behavior of violent criminals and drug dealers. He asked that those individuals be given the strength to abandon such behavior.

“This is a worthy cause,” Nolfi said. “With conditions that prevail within the community and the world, there should be so many people here that they line up outside. There is a great need for God's love in the hearts of many.”

Even with Monday's humble gathering, Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi said the city came a long way in 2012.

While shots were fired and property was damaged, no lives were taken as the result of violent crime.

“Whether it was our prayers, the Clairton Bears or a glimmer of hope, things changed this year,” Lattanzi said.

The Bears high school football team helped instill a spirit of pride by winning a fourth consecutive state title and extending the country's longest winning streak to 63 games.

Mitchell said it's right to take pride in that success and to allow good feelings to build from it, but residents should not get carried away in idolizing the players or the game.

“If you're so happy that something good is happening in Clairton, you should want more good things in Clairton,” Mitchell said.

Attendees asked in prayer petitions that the city's young stars experience success for years to come in the form of education, careers and families.

The Rev. Willie Thompson of Morningstar Baptist Church asked that every home, every job and every person be blessed. He thanked God for a “safe and sound city.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956