Prayer walk slatedto encircle entirelocal community

By Katrina Goforth -

The Altus Ministerial Alliance and city officials are planning to “circle Altus in prayer” Sept. 24 beginning with an 8:30 a.m. gathering at city hall.

From there, participants are slated to depart to starting points designated to cover all of Altus and begin the walk at 9:30 a.m.

Last year, 150 people participated in the prayer walk, but the Altus Police Department estimated that 1,000 people attended — with everyone one lined up curb-to-curb, the group stretched three blocks long.

Mayor Jack Smiley, and his wife Mindy, were proponents of the prayer walk in 2015.

“It was a huge success in breaking down barriers between churches with huge differences,” Smiley said.

Last year, 25 church groups and organizations participated, and this year, many local churches have agreed to sponsor a stop for those walking to rest, have water, and recover for the remainder of the walk. Anyone not affiliated with a church or organization participating in the walk are still encouraged to join.

As it did last year, this year’s prayer walk is designed to cover all 19 miles around Altus to truly encircle the city.

The idea of creating a circle came from the book, “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson, in which he encourages people of faith to pray circles around the things in their lives, whether that be a problem, a situation or a city.

After each group makes its way through the area, participants are set to meet at Joy Street and Martin Luther King Avenue — symbolic of the positive impact unity has on the community — to begin the last mile back to the Jackson County Courthouse.

The theme of the prayer walk is An Appeal to Heaven. The symbol, an evergreen tree, came from a squadron of six cruisers under the command of George Washington as he led soldiers in the fight to win independence from Great Britain for the 13 Colonies. The evergreen tree can be seen as a symbol for strength and determination, qualities that unite people under one common purpose.

More people are involved in planning meetings this year, and Altus Ministerial Alliance President Arlis Moon, pastor of Freedom Church, hopes to see more people attending the walk Saturday.

“We’re excited. This builds unity like nothing else I’ve seen. It’s really amazing,” Moon said.

After the walk, Smiley is planning to share his ideas about the event and the importance of supporting the community.

Music and food is slated for participants to enjoy after a full morning of activity.

By Katrina Goforth

Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.

Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.

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