A group of ten holds hands in a circle outside the State Capitol during the prayer rally.
A group of ten holds hands in a circle outside the State Capitol during the prayer rally.

Mississippians amassed around the Capitol on Monday wearing red and blue stickers that said “State Capitol Prayer Statement,” “Jesus is Lord” and “Prayer Matters.”

Polls for the presidential election would open in less than 24-hours, and many participants admitted that nerves over the outcome had inspired them to pile onto buses or into carpools and travel to the state Capitol for the prayer rally.

But no one mentioned either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The event organizers, Mississippi Baptists Convention Board and First Baptist Church in Jackson, had asked that the focus be on prayers, not politics

But for many people the focus of their prayers was still clear.

Betty and Wilbur McCurdy traveled from Morton for the prayer rally at the State Capitol Monday.

“We’ve got to get Christian values back in the White House. And get rid of gays’ and lesbians’ rights to marry … and abortion,” said Wilbur McCurdy of New Liberty Baptist Church in Morton.

“People are tired of having Christian values trampled on,” said Betty McCurdy, the wife of Wilbur. “Liberals are trying to push Christian values back.”

Gov. Phil Bryant, who spoke to the crowd from the steps of First Baptist Church across the street, even got in on the “wink-nod” method of talking politics. He didn’t endorse anyone specifically, even though over the past few months he has become a well-known surrogate for Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“So tomorrow will be a time of choosing for this nation,” Bryant said. “It will be Election Day. We will go and have our voices heard through the greatest process that this country has ever known. I will ask you to go and vote. I’m going to be careful here, I won’t go and tell you who.”

Thousands gathered at the State Capitol for the prayer rally, organized by the Mississippi Baptists and Christians.

At this point, the audience laughed and cheered.

“But I will be careful here to go and ask you to vote for the unborn,” Bryant said as the audience erupted in applause and several participants shouted “Amen.” “Go and vote for families tomorrow, that have held this nation together since its very founding.”

More than anything, some ralliers said they were hoping that America would get back on track. When asked about Tuesday’s election, some participants said they were hopeful that this day of prayer could sway things.

“Oh yes, absolutely,” said Bruce Chamberlain, who had traveled from Brookhaven with his wife, Shirley. “Where God is in it, anything can change.”

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Larrison Campbell is a Greenville native who reports on politics with an emphasis on public health. She received a bachelor’s from Wesleyan University and a master’s from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.Larrison is a 2018 National Press Foundation fellow in public health, a 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts fellow in health care reporting and a 2019 Center for Health Journalism National Fellow.