On Wednesday, faith leaders across the Buckeye Bible Belt held a press conference regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Their statewide call to prayer comes less than one year after local officials observed the anniversary of a victory against another pandemic that occurred almost two centuries prior.
Last year, both the Mansfield mayor and Richland County Board of Commissioners publicly acknowledged divine intervention that curtailed the cholera pandemic in August of 1849 after corporate prayer and fasting. In light of the COVID-19 world crisis, 120 area clergy also feel the Almighty can heal their land if His people humble themselves.
Pastor Paul Lintern of Oakland Lutheran and Southside Christian Church recounted the compelling account outside the Troy Township Fire Station before joining three other clergy in reading the joint proclamation.
Pastor Louis Blevins of Latter Rain COGIC described the chain events leading up to the proclamation of national and state emergencies involving COVID-19. "With tens of thousands of cases occurring throughout China and the rest of the world, and a collapse in the stock market this month resulting in the largest drop since the '1987 Crash,' the cancellation of schools, elections, and other cultural events has reached epic proportions across the nation."
Pastor Jody Odom of Ambassadors for Christ asserted that "the Bible is a leading source of modern health knowledge," and cited Scriptural examples and a list of Bible-believing pioneers in medicine. He also reported local developments from last year.
The joint proclamation said:
"We are calling Ohioans to a season of corporate prayer and fasting, especially during the zenith of the Holy Week and Passover observances from Sunday, April 5th thru Thursday, April 16th. We stand in solidarity as a faith community during these extraordinary times being fully convinced in the words of Psalm 91 that only the Most High God will be our refuge and fortress and will deliver us from the perilous pestilence.
"Following Governor DeWine's oath of office taken on nine Bibles on January 15th, 2019 and a declaration of 2019 as the 'Year of the Bible' by North Central Ohio clergymen from one hundred and fifty congregations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported minimal influenza cases in Ohio despite rampant cases nationwide."
Pastor Lintern recalled how "Twenty-seven North Central Ohio clergymen illustrated spiritual health can affect biological outcome by forwarding a 2016 Harvard study to area medical providers in the Fall of 2016 discussing the correlation between church attendance and the decreased risk of both cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality."
The clergy statement concluded, "As leading clergymen from one hundred and twenty congregations across North Central Ohio, we are calling Ohioans to a season of corporate prayer and fasting, especially during the zenith of the Holy Week and Passover observances from Sunday, April 5th thru Thursday, April 16th. We stand in solidarity as a faith community during these extraordinary times being fully convinced in the words of Psalm 91 that only the Most High God will be our refuge and fortress and will deliver us from the perilous pestilence."
Pastor Jerry O'Brien of Faith Harvest Fellowship closed the press conference in a heartfelt prayer reciting Psalm 91.
"Through all that we have gone through and seen as ministers, it has taught us to trust You for the things we cannot now see. We trust You GOD that You will restore the years that the locusts have stolen. We pray for an end to this virus."
During the 2008-2009 "Great Recession," 83 north-central Ohio clergymen called for a day of prayer and fasting after General Motors tragically announced the closure of one of the area's large-scale stamping plants.
Click here to view the press conference in its entirety.
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