Cleveland-area leaders pray for unity, prosperity of community

Members of clergy gather around Cleveland Mayor Otis Cohn to pray for him at a recognition of the Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer at the Cleveland Civic Center on Feb. 12. For the last four years, the mayor has battled colon cancer.

By Vanesa Brashier,

Feb. 12 is a special day in Cleveland. For the last five years, the city has participated in the Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

While the holiday is not widely recognized in the nation, in Cleveland observance of the holiday includes a community gathering at the Cleveland Civic Center where prayers from city leaders, ministers, business leaders and first responders are offered to God.

In January, Cleveland City Council voted to observe Feb. 12 of every year, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls, as National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer.

Mayor Otis Cohn, at the January council meeting, stated that it is important to recognize the holiday on the actual day of Feb. 12 so that its meaning and significance are not diminished.

“We don’t have a celebration on Lincoln’s birthday anymore. I figure this is a good way of celebrating a day that means something. It certainly does mean something,” he said Tuesday.

Cohn, who is battling colon cancer, explained how he and his wife, Mary, have gotten in the habit of reading Our Daily Bread, a column written by Patricia Raybon. He read Raybon’s Feb. 12 entry titled “Seen by God,” which talks about how God sees people and their futures even when they cannot see it for themselves.

“I believe we are all near-sighted. We can see things up close and can’t see things far away. They are blurry. The only people we know are our immediate family and those who take care of us when we are infants,” Cohn said. “As we grow older, we are fitted with that pair of glasses if we are raised in the right way. Then we begin to see things far away. If we stay on the right path, we will see God.

“I know what I am fighting now is in God’s hands. God is watching,” he said.

After prayers were offered by representatives of local schools and businesses, city and county law enforcement, city officials and clergy, Rev. Lance Blackwell, who led the Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer observance, asked Cohn to the front of the room again so that local ministers could surround him and pray for his healing.

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