Religion News Service: Evangelicals gather for prayer rally in Washington

WASHINGTON (RNS) Evangelical Christians converged on the nation’s capital for a prayer rally on one of the hottest days of the summer.

With the nation reeling from recent shootings and shocked by news of a terrorist attack in France and an attempted coup in Turkey, speakers at “Together 2016” cited the global events from the stage and spoke of the challenges facing Americans.

“Jesus can heal our nation,” said former Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd to applause and cries of “Amen.” “Jesus can heal relationships. America is like a broken bone that needs to be put back into its correct place in order to experience healing.”

With their calls for prayer and unity, speakers generally focused on spiritual rather than concrete solutions to the nation’s problems. The event had been promoted by Pope Francis and noted by President Barack Obama.

Nick Hall, 34, the leader of the Pulse ministry that organized the event focused on millennials, also addressed the crowd in the shadow of the Washington Monument.

“God, we don’t need to hear from some man or some woman,” he said in an opening prayer. “God, we don’t need to hear from some band. We need to hear from heaven today. That’s why we’ve come.”

Others taking the stage included some of the top names in evangelicalism, preachers such as Josh McDowell and Samuel Rodriguez, Christian artist Lecrae and the group Hillsong United.

Hall, speaking especially to the millennials, said “we want to get the hashtag #JesusChangesEverything trending around the world today.” It remained one of the top trending tweets on Twitter hours after the event.

Many in the multiethnic crowd joined in as contemporary Christian singer Michael W. Smith sang a song about compassion. As people sweated and fanned themselves, wearing beach hats and hovering under umbrellas, they offered bottles of water and welcomed others to the scant shady spots in earshot of the stage’s speakers and songs.

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