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Clairton unites in prayer at annual event

| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 10:12 a.m.
Many ring in the new year with prayer. One tradition that has gone on regularly for more than a quarter-century is Prayers Over Clairton. At the 2014 event attendees raised their hands in praise, in some cases waving anointed prayer cloths. The event involves members of many of the city's churches and will take place Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Clairton municipal building, 551 Ravensburg Blvd.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Trib Total Media
Many ring in the new year with prayer. One tradition that has gone on regularly for more than a quarter-century is Prayers Over Clairton. At the 2014 event attendees raised their hands in praise, in some cases waving anointed prayer cloths. The event involves members of many of the city's churches and will take place Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Clairton municipal building, 551 Ravensburg Blvd.
Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi joins Bishop Thelma Jean Mitchell of Living Waters International Church in praying for positive change in 2014 during Tuesday's 'Prayers Over Clairton' event at city hall.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi joins Bishop Thelma Jean Mitchell of Living Waters International Church in praying for positive change in 2014 during Tuesday's 'Prayers Over Clairton' event at city hall.

Local pastors hope 2014 will be the year Clairton earns its name as the City of Prayer.

Gathering at city hall on Tuesday with officials and residents, pastors from churches across town came together for “Prayers Over Clairton,” an annual New Year's Eve event intended to wish Clairton well for months to come.

“We come together to meet and to pray,” said organizer Bishop Thelma Jean Mitchell of Living Waters International Church. “We've been doing this for years and years, and some of you have been with us from the beginning.”

The Rev. Willie Thompson of Morning Star Baptist Church challenged more than 50 attendees to share a spirit of goodwill as they strive to do their part to improve their community.

“Who would have thought that tonight would be a day of deliverance and breakthrough — not for some but for everybody,” Thompson said. “Help us, God, to be the City of Prayer. Help us not just be named the City of Prayer, but to be the City of Prayer.”

Residents, including Dorcas Rumble, said they believe prayer is the answer to many of the distressed community's woes. She said the adults present for Tuesday's event should leave with a mission to instill faith in the city's youth.

“We need prayer in the community,” Rumble said. “Our community is lost. We can't lose our children, because they are our future.”

Participants prayed for guidance for Clairton's children. They asked that city youth be saved from destructive decisions and encouraged each other to be guiding lights as they achieve goals of their own.

“We can think of no better way to begin the New Year than in prayer,” the Rev. David Nolfi of the Church of Jesus Christ said. “There are many needs in our community.”

Clairton pastors led the group in prayer and song, each one identifying a different need. Some prayed for the government. Others prayed for education and families and unity among Clairton's churches and residents.

“We're all here for the betterment of Clairton,” Mayor Rich Lattanzi said. “We are all here to pray and hope for a prosperous new year.”

The Rev. Rhonda Alderman of Clairton's First AME Church prayed for the local economy. New to Clairton, she described her first impression.

“When I came here and drove through town, all I saw were empty buildings,” Alderman said. “That is not an obstacle. It's an opportunity.”

She prayed for new businesses, new jobs and new families, who will have places to work.

“Don't let this be the last time you pray,” the Rev. Leroy Thompson of Dream Christian Center said. “Let this be the year that we pray all year long.”

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

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