BRADENTON -- The National Day of Prayer holds special meaning to Brenda Rogers, president of the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton.
She values the importance of being spiritually involved and is thankful for her right to publicly display her faith.
"It's an important celebration," she said.
For six decades, the nation has celebrated the National Day of Prayer, a call to find humility and encourage one another to pray for the nation. The annual observance, held on the first Thursday of May, was enacted by Congress and signed by president Harry Truman in 1952.
"We have a history of being involved," said Rogers, who also serves as Manatee County's director of Community Services.
Several county officials, business and churches were present at the club's Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium on Thursday. The morning included an opening prayer from City Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey, a community prayer from County Commissioner Larry Bustle and a prayer for school children by Schools Superintendant Tim McGonegal. There was also a special music performance by choir singers from various churches.
Producer, actress and casting director Nicole Abisinio, owner of Sarasota-based Gabriel's Messenger Films, was the guest speaker. Her company, which produces family-based films, recently completed production of the movie "The Investigator," an inspirational and true tale of a police detective who struggles with his faith and eventually becomes a high school baseball coach which leads him to the most important investigation of his life.
"The main point I was trying to get across is that people understand suffering is not necessarily a bad thing because it's for God's glory and good will come from it," Abisinio said.
In total, the breakfast welcomed 24 businesses and organizations and five churches.
"Of all the events we do, this truly gives us a sense of personal growth," said the club's spirit aims chairman Janene Witham, also the executive director of Manatee Players. "We invited guest speakers who will challenge us personally to re-examine and refocus our lives for the betterment of us as individuals and the community we touch on a daily basis."
Other National Day of Prayer events throughout the county Thursday included an observance at the Historical Park in Palmetto, the Anna Maria Island Holmes Beach City Gazebo and the north lawn of the historic Manatee County Courthouse.
Just before noon, dozens of people gathered in front of the courthouse to join in the event there. Seven community leaders and ministers led the crowd in prayers, with the theme "One Nation Under God."
Each prayer leader focused on one of the "Seven Centers of Power": government, military, business, church, family, education and the media. The program closed with a rousing chorus led by singer Lori Goodfellow of "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America."
"It's an important day for people to reflect on where we are, where we've been and where we want to be," said Pastor Alfred James of Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Palmetto, who gave the benediction at the Kiwanis breakfast. "It's a blessing we're in a country where we have the freedom to do this."
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Follow him on Twitter @_1NickWilliams.