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Prayer at pole events bring God to school

Pastor Salaw Hummingbird, of Big Cypress First Baptist Church, lets kids recite the Seminole Pledge into the mic Sept. 23 during the See You at the Pole event in Big Cypress.
Pastor Salaw Hummingbird, of Big Cypress First Baptist Church, lets kids recite the Seminole Pledge into the mic Sept. 23 during the See You at the Pole event in Big Cypress.

Prayer is as welcome at Seminole schools as pencils, books and recess.

“I am thankful that our Tribe honors God and that you all are able to be standing here today for Him,” Josh Jumper said to more than 100 Ahfachkee School students, teachers, parents and community leaders gathered just after dawn Sept. 23 at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium in Big Cypress.

At the same time, nearly 70 miles north at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School in Brighton, another crowd of students, teachers and staff mustered for collective prayer under a campus breezeway.

Worldwide an estimated 3 million students and adult leaders congregated for the 25th annual See You at the Pole day of prayer.

The tradition was conceived in 1990 when a handful of Texas public school teenagers became determined to pray at school for fellow students, teachers and community leaders even though classroom prayer had been banned.

The students first gathered under the cover of night at the outdoor flagpoles of three schools. Within a year, the practice had spread to 20,000 students in four states.

See You at the Pole is now an annual Seminole school event, said Pastor Salaw Hummingbird, of the Big Cypress First Baptist Church. Musical performances, recitations of biblical verses and communal prayer are common backbones for the demonstrations.

“For some of you children, if you are not sure how to pray, just ask for help,” Hummingbird told the students.

In Big Cypress, the 45-minute event under the Seminole, United States and Florida flags began with a united invocation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Later, Sarah Robbins led students in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Seminole Pledge.

Inspirational words by Big Cypress New Testament Baptist Church Pastor Arlen Payne, Tribal elder Jonah Cypress and Big Cypress Board Rep. Joe Frank inspired the children to live their faith with courage and strength, regardless of what religion they practice.

“Today with Yom Kippur, a holy day for our Jewish brothers and sisters, it is a good day for everyone,” Rep. Frank said. “The Creator goes by many names. We have to remember to thank Him for His biggest gift, which is life, and the second, which is learning.”

At PECS, Luke Enfinger, from Moore 2 Life Ministries, blessed the audience with Christian songs before everyone joined hands to pray.

The PECS event was sponsored by PECS Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as a reminder of the importance of intercessory prayer to help others.

Freelance writer Emma Johns contributed to this report.

 

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