‘Park and pray’: Religious leaders gather outside of schools in Southern Ohio


PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) – While some choose to stay home and pray for their children’s safety, others are gathering in front of local schools.

In Portsmouth, Ohio, religious leaders and members of the community came together Sunday in front of Portsmouth High School for the second annual “Prayer over the schools” event. However, this year’s event is a little bit different.

The annual prayer meetup is hosted by the Mt. Hope Bible Camp in Otway, Ohio. This year, instead of gathering in a large group, participants could either stay in their vehicle or get out, but remain six feet from others.

But Portsmouth isn’t the only city participating in this “Park and pray” event. Several cities in Southern Ohio joined the annual prayer event as students prepare to go back to school this week.

Portsmouth Mayor Kevin E. Johnson says the connection with other cities and congregations is all about staying united during these tough times.

This just shows, whether it’s our school system here in the cities or maybe it’s one of the county school’s that does an event like this. It shows a unity, a bond if you will.

Kevin E. Johnson, Portsmouth city mayor

As the student’s return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, religious leaders like Shannon Bowling, pastor at Gateway Church in Portmsouth, say they are trusting a higher power for the safety of their children.

We’re just praying that God keeps his hand over them and that everything goes well.

Shannon Bowling, pastor of Gateway Church in Portsmouth, Ohio

Students head back to school Monday, August 24, 2020, although some schools have opted to start the year remotely. For Ohio’s schools reopening plans, click here.

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