WARREN - Mark Hines and Pastor Chuck Gantz are hoping to encourage more people to turn to prayer when facing difficult decisions in their lives.
"Whether it is addiction, abuse or anything that is causing personal pain or in families, we believe that people need to turn to prayer," Hines said.
"Last week, when residents talked about solutions to crime in the city, some advised that people turn to prayer," Hines said. "We believe that's part of the solution. It was ironic that we have been planning this candle light vigil asking people to return to prayer for the last six weeks."
Vince Peterson gives a sermon Sunday at the Mahoning Valley Hope Center on Surrey Road, Warren, during a candlelight vigil to combat community issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, violence and suicide. Photo by Raymond L. Smith
The Mahoning Valley Hope Center has been operating at 3217 Surrey Road for about six weeks. The hope center is a place where several churches are combining resources to provide programming for their congregations.
"We are able to provide recovery service, day care and other services for the churches at a fraction of the cost," Hines said.
More than 100 people attending the Sunday afternoon service.
Pastors Vincent Peterson and Kevin Rausch led services during the three-hour program.
"We want people to get involved with their local churches," Hines said. "Whatever their church and whatever their congregations, we believe it is important for people to find a church family and pray."
While prayer is important every day, Gantz said it is particularly important during this time of year because a lot of people struggle with emotions and troubles that normally are below surface.
Peterson's message was for those who have gone through different, perhaps difficult, situations to realize how blessed they truly are.
"What they have gone through is to be shared," Peterson said. "When they gain strength, they should use it to strengthen their brothers and sisters."
Peterson said he appreciates the Hope Center because it reaches out to all those in need.
"Sometimes people get used to catering to certain people and our not getting to people who truly are in need," Peterson said. "The Hope Center is an outreach program. They are looking to help anyone. Mark and Chuck are leading a true ministry that is needed in our community."
JoAnn Z. Loch, 54, of Cortland, says having the candlelight vigil and prayer service was especially timely for her because she has been carrying the pain of her sister's death since 2006.
"This service was absolutely awesome," Loch said. "It was a heart-melter."
Loch's sister, Cathy, died while struggling with a relative and the gun fired.
"My sister was 44 years old when she was killed," Loch said. "Her birthday of Nov. 19. I needed to pray. I'm a big believer of facing painful events."
Loch says washer faith that prepared for her sister's death.
"The prayer vigil helps you to release the pain that you're carrying in your soul," she said. "It is a very hard thing to release the pain."