(Photo: Screenshot via WKBN-TV)
An Ohio pastor marked the annual National Day of Prayer Thursday with a quirky tradition he has been observing for the past eight years: sitting on the roof of his Baptist church to pray.
Pastor Barry Knaub of Margaret Wynn Memorial Baptist Church off of State Route 616 in Poland, Ohio, spent Thursday on the roof of his church, sitting in a lawn chair being held down by bricks. The pastor was also shielded by an umbrella, but fortunately the city of Poland saw few raindrops on Thursday.
Knaub has been sitting on top of his church's roof on the National Day of Prayer for the past eight years, offering prayers and blessings to anyone who drives by and honks, or chooses to stop and speak to the pastor. The road near the church is lined with signs that read "pastor on roof all day" and "beep for prayers."
The pastor told the local Youngstown Vindicator that he "wanted to do something different to attract attention to the day" of national prayer. Knaub went on to describe why he thinks prayer is so important, saying: "People need prayer in their lives. Prayer embraces God's power in our lives and draws us into a personal relationship with God."
Knaub's thoughtful effort also received help from the community, with various church members or passerby stopping to bring the pastor cupcakes and snacks to help him through the day on the roof. The pastor also keeps food and water in a cooler next to him.
Parishioner Lisa Payne told WKBN-TV that she sees the pastor's roof tradition as an important inspiration to community members. "Good inspiration for us. He's like a brother to a lot of us, not just a pastor. He's part of the family. This is a family-oriented church."
The pastor told the local media station that although he cannot pray specifically for all the people who honk at him as they drive by, he can pray for them generally. "I don't know their needs, but I can still pray for them and pray God will meet their needs whatever it is."
Pastor Knaub's National Day of Prayer observance was one of the many taking place throughout the country on Thursday. President Barack Obama also issued a statement, saying that the freedom to prayer is one of the defining characteristics of America.
The president also called on Americans to remember those persecuted for their convictions around the world.
"As we give thanks for our liberties, we must never forget those around the world, including Americans, who are being held or persecuted because of their convictions. Let us remember all prisoners of conscience today, whatever their faiths or beliefs and wherever they are held," Obama's proclamation read, as previously reported by The Christian Post.
"Let us continue to take every action within our power to secure their release. And let us carry forward our nation's tradition of religious liberty, which protects Americans' rights to pray and to practice our faiths as we see fit."