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Garden Club hosts annual prayer for peace ceremony

Citizens of Russellville lit up a portion of Jackson Avenue Thursday as the Cultura Garden Club hosted its annual Every Light a Prayer for Peace Ceremony and the first Russellville Christmas Tree Lighting.

The prayer ceremony, which was rescheduled from its original Dec. 3 date because of weather, took place on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse.

“We are so thankful to everyone who took the time to come out and join us,” said Garden Club member Susie Malone. “Prayer for peace is always something we need, and this time is no different in our country.”

The event began with a short history lesson on how the Every Light a Prayer ceremony began, after Christmas lights across the nation were turned off following the events of Pearl Harbor.

“Not only were lights going off in the home, but they were going off in the hearts of people all across America,” said Garden Club vice president Debbie Nale.

Nale said in the early 1950s, when Americans were once again called to war, celebrating Christmas was not as important as praying for peace.

In 1951, the first Every Light a Prayer ceremony was held in Greenville. Everyone was encouraged to light a candle and pray for peace. Similar ceremonies are now held all across the state, including at the state capitol.

Following a background of the event, North Highlands church of Christ minister Philip Goad gave a short lesson to those in attendance.

“As the lights come on this evening, and we collectively offer a prayer for peace, I would challenge each of us to remember this,” Goad said. “A prayer for genuine peace is ultimately a prayer for the Messiah to be honored and respected and to be followed.”

Following Goad’s thoughts, candles were distributed to those in attendance, and everyone lit their candles to send up prayers for peace.

After the candle lighting, everyone in attendance counted down to light the Russellville Christmas tree. Once the tree was lit, Santa came on the scene for pictures.

“We are glad we have the opportunity to have the tree lighting, and we hope to have this every year,” said garden club member Hillary Hall.