The annual event will return to Bradley County Courthouse Plaza on Sept. 11, after moving indoors in 2011 for logistical reasons. The one-hour program will also begin at its traditional noon start time.
More than 1,000 Cleveland and Bradley County area residents gathered in Lee University’s Conn Center in 2011 to remember the tragedies that befell America and to pray for a spiritual renewal. Last year’s prayer vigil was one of 2,400 official points of prayer in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cry Out America events were scheduled in 38 counties with populations over 1 million.
Steve Morgan, a member of the organizing task force for the upcoming event, said it is important to remember the dark day that for many is a reminder of loss. The terrorist attacks changed the course of history and the course of many lives then, now and throughout eternity.
“What we do here may not seem like a big deal — it is not downtown New York City — but in this community, it is a big deal,” he said. “We want to make sure we do this with the respect and honor it deserves.”
He said, “We are a nation founded on your principles. This is a free nation. What God sets free is free indeed. This country is free, and also for anyone who calls on [God’s] name and the founders, did in fact, do that.”
Iris Ray said Cry Out America is ultimately about calling for God’s presence to be, “so manifested in our country that it brings transformation. Publicly, we see the changes that are taking place in our country right before our eyes.”
The organizing task force met Wednesday afternoon as 6,000 to 7,000 people waited in line at Chick-fil-A on Keith Street to show their appreciation for the company’s support of traditional marriage.
And, in the upcoming elections, she said many Christians feel none of the ballot choices will cause the nation to return to its Christian foundation.
Morgan said the United States really is a Christian nation, though modern culture is trying to change it into a secular one.
“But when it comes down to the nit and grit of it, there are a lot of folks who are just not willing to go there,” he said.
In 2011, the focus was raising up the next generation. Ray suggested the September event should focus on choosing: choosing spiritual things, choosing God, choosing things of God’s kingdom and helping people focus again on what is eternal and what is real.
“People are seeing there is something happening here that we need to take a stand for,” Ray said. “People who choose immorality are choosing what is earthly and their desires are bound to the earth. As believers, our desires are heavenly. We choose something that is spiritual. We choose something that is higher. ”
Members of the organizing task force at the organizational meeting were Steve Morgan, First Baptist Church; Dan Howell, Bradley County; Dr. Jamie Works, Candies Creek Baptist Church; Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Iris Ray, Cleveland Net; LaVonna Cockerham, Living Word Church; Dr. Jimmy Harper, Lee University and Robert Green, Ocoee Region Fellowship of Christian Athletes.