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‘More than ever’ global school prayer event critical

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Prayer is needed now in schools more than ever, organizers of an annual prayer event said as the initiative marks its 28th year Sept. 26 at 7 a.m. in schools globally.

See You at the Pole (SYATP), drawing an estimated 1 million students in prayer on school grounds, is expanding its influence this year by teaming with Claim Your Campus (CYC), a national prayer initiative mobilizing students in daily prayer in middle and high schools.

“These are unprecedented and challenging times for students,” SYATP national coordinator Doug Clark said in a promotional Facebook video. “We all want a better future for our students, one that’s safe, positive and fair for all.

“Prayer is the first best thing we can do to make this happen,” said Clark, who is also national field director for the National Network of Youth Ministries.

The SYATP Global Week of Prayer surrounds the day, extending from Sept. 24–28 and allowing more schools to participate. Fully within the law, SYATP encourages students to gather in Christian prayer at 7 a.m. local time around flagpoles before the start of the school day.

The event strategically occurs near the beginning of the school year. Billy Beachum, SYATP national coordinator, said the cooperative effort between SYATP and CYC is motivated by current events and the groups’ shared value and vision to see God’s love change schools.

“More than ever, students need to know that they are loved and that they matter to God,” Beachum said in the Facebook video. “Together we can show students that we care and that they are safe and supported at school. But most importantly, we can help each and every student know that there is a God who loves them.”

Both student-led events, SYATP grew out of a 1990 DiscipleNow weekend in Texas while CYC was birthed through an eight-student prayer meeting at the largest public school in Michigan in 2009, according to claimyourcampus.com.

“Now is the time to show students that we care,” founder Jeff Eckart likewise said on a Facebook video of CYC, working to engage students in daily prayer at all 67,000 middle and high schools in the U.S. “We see a powerful path moving forward for change,” mobilizing students in “praying for grace, peace, justice and mercy…. See you at the Pole and Claim Your Campus complement one another, and we are thrilled to work together.”

If SYATP causes any contention among school administrators, organizers encourage students to meet elsewhere, with instructional resources available at syapt.com. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of more than 100 groups and Christian ministries supporting SYATP, provides a summary of students’ legal rights in a memo available at adflegal.org.

Students “are taking a courageous and unpopular stand for their faith when they show up at their schools’ flagpoles in the morning to pray,” ADF representative Sarah Kramer wrote in an ADF blog. “But that is also the reason we have hope. These students are an example to all Christians. They are not shying away from proclaiming their faith and praying in public. They are a testament that their faith trumps their popularity.”

SYAPT participation reached 3 million in its early years, Clark has said, but participation has leveled at a million annually. Students in more than 60 countries have participated.