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WAKE FOREST — Citizens and local churches are gathering Saturday to pray for a group of people event organizers believe are unsung heroes of the town: civil servants.
Among those on the prayer list for the third annual Wake Forest Community Prayer Walk are code enforcement officers, town planners, finance department staff, secretaries, police officers, government administrators and IT professionals.
Hundreds of people are expected to march through Wake Forest and meet outside town hall to pray for about 100 different categories of public employees. Prayers will also be offered to elected and appointed officials, including the board of commissioners.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is prayer or blessings for all the servants in Wake Forest,” said the Rev. Kenneth Steigler, leader of 3CM ministries, which organizes the event.
“It’s prayer focused,” he added. “I know that doesn’t sound like a lot. It’s praying for health and honesty and integrity.”
He estimated the group will pray for about 45 minutes at Centennial Plaza along South Brooks Street. That will include a benediction led by emcee Tilda Caudle and a Jewish prayer led in Hebrew by Shelly Bleiweiss, whose parents survived the Holocaust.
More than 150 people have registered to participate, but Steigler estimated that around 300 will show up. Those involved will meet at 10 a.m. in four different locations across Wake Forest before walking to Centennial Plaza, where they will meet at 11 a.m. to pray.
The four groups are named after the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — and will be lead by various church leaders in the community. The groups will stop and pray at businesses, churches and homes along their routes as well.
“It’s to bring a blessing from the four corners of this town,” Steigler said, explaining that the inspiration for the walk component of the event came from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Steigler said he worked alongside King in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s.
Last year, organizers intended to pray for every public employee by name. But several government employees were uncomfortable having their names shared at the event, Steigler said.
This year, organizers will only call out name of the government department and pray for all staff of that department at once. The only employees who will be named are department heads and other high-ranking officials whose names are listed on the town’s website, Steigler said.
“We just wanted to pray for everyone by name,” Steigler said of last year’s concerns. “We’re trying to say ‘We love you’ and are trying to bring any blessings instead of any consternation about using their names.”
Other officials and employees have responded positively to the event in the past and have said it meant a lot to them, Steigler said.
The 100 participants who registered first will be given a free lunch at The Forks Cafeteria afterward. Other participants will get a free packaged lunch. Water is provided by Food Lion.
Here are the four starting locations for the walk:
• Team Matthew: Community Building at South Avenue and East Wingate Street.
• Team Mark: Feggins Funeral Home, 430 N. White St.
• Team Luke: Wait Avenue and Allen Street.
• Team John: Wake Forest United Methodist Church, 905 S. Main St.
The prayer walk will happen rain or shine, Steigler said, quipping: “Oh yeah, we are going to pray. You can pray in the rain. You can pray in the sun.”
Attendees are encouraged to participate in a meal-packing event with Rise Against Hunger afterward. That event is from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Wake Forest Boys & Girls Club, 325 S. Wingate St.