Hundreds gather for back-to-school prayer service

Students and parents gathered on the football field at Ricky M. Cairns Stadium during the second annual Prayer in the Park service. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

On Sunday, Aug. 19, Calera families kicked off the new school year with the second annual Prayer in the Park at Ricky M. Cairns Football Field.

Prayer in the Park is a communitywide praise and worship service coordinated by several local churches. The event started as a back-to-school backpack anointing service at Calera First United Methodist Church. Last year, other Calera churches joined in and opened the event for the whole community.

“It just started through wanting to unite our community in praying for our students and schools,” said Melinda Gibson, Calera First Children’s Ministry director. “One of the largest spiritual battlegrounds are the schools, so what better battle plan than to unite the body of Christ in Calera together to pray?”

This year, Westwood Baptist Church’s Calera campus praise band led attendees in worship while several local pastors lead prayer. Northside Baptist Pastor Joe Sizemore lead a special prayer for parents, Calera Baptist Youth Pastor Stephen Cannon lead prayer for teachers and the Rev. Dr. Harry S. Jones, New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist, prayed for the students.

Calera Intermediate fifth grader Kylie Jordan, a First Priority Cub member, opened the service in prayer. Calera Baptist’s youth drama team performed on the field. South Shelby Baptist and The Church at Shelby Crossings were instrumental in organizing and serving during the event. The Calera Eagles Band Boosters, Jami Noe, Dr. John Allen Baggett and Victory GMC all donated goods for the event.

Calera churches collected school supplies that were distributed to students. “We were able to give out about 400 bags of school supplies and around 150 backpacks,” Calera First member Beverly Smith said. “We hope to expand and be better able to offer help with school supplies and other back-to-school needs next year.”

Wendy Pierce, worship leader/director South Shelby Baptist Church and Learning Center said Prayer in the Park is a very important event for our community. “There is so much that churches can do, and as a result people will see and feel the love of Christ through these deeds,” she said.

“I know my family was blessed,” said Valerie Goebel, Calera resident and mother of three.


Mollie Brown can be reached at