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100 show belief in the power of prayer during observance in Latrobe

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Tom Millward of West Newton bows his head during “Prayer in the Park,”an event to observe the National Day of Prayer in Latrobe. The event was sponsored by the Greater Latrobe Ministerial Association.

Twenty years ago, George Thomas Millward of West Newton was testifying before a federal jury in Pittsburgh about his involvement in a marijuana drug ring that had been distributing some $500,000 worth of the drug before it was busted by undercover narcotics agents in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, the 63-year-old Millward was among 100 people listening to Latrobe-area ministers and town leaders testify to the power — and need — for prayer in the community and people's lives during Latrobe's second annual National Day of Prayer ceremony in James H. Rogers Memorial Park.

Millward said he found God about 10 years ago, after being enveloped in a world of hate through his involvement in the Ku Klux Klan. He carries the remnants of that life with him today in the form of a tattooed Nazi swastika and the letters “AKIA,” which stands for “A Klansman I Am.”

“Jesus took the hate of me,” said Millward, who said he served two years in a federal prison near Morgantown, W.Va.

Latrobe City Manager Alex Graziani told the audience that they were enjoying America's freedom to worship, but came together because of a great need in their lives.

Graziani asked God to heal the families that are broken and needy, the ones who are fighting child abuse and addiction in the community.

The landscaped downtown park with a water fountain, just across Jefferson Street from Latrobe City Hall, is “on almost a nightly basis, a place of drug deals,” Graziani said.

People need God in their lives and “we believe God will heal this land,” Graziani said.

God needs to be in all aspects of a person's life, at home as well as their place of business, said the Rev. Tim Young, pastor of Latrobe Alliance Church.

Looking out at the crowd gathered in the park for the day of prayer, the Rev. Clark Kerr, pastor of Latrobe Presbyterian Church, said, “this is a testament to the power of God in our community.”

Kerr closed with ceremony with a reminder to the audience.

“This is a beginning, not an end,” Kerr said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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