‘In a spirit of unity’: Diverse faiths to gather for Prayer Over the City in St. George to bless 2022

ST. GEORGE — The annual interfaith Prayer Over the City event returns to the St. George Tabernacle on Saturday to help ring in the new year as area faith leaders offer prayers of hope and unity for the future.

In this file photo, Rev. Jimi Kestin, of Solomon’s Porch Foursquare Fellowship, welcomes viewers to the 2021 Prayer Over the City event over Zoom as he faces a webcam on the table in front of him, St. George, Utah, Jan. 1, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On New Year’s Day this year, the event was closed to the public due to pandemic concerns and instead streamed online from a building on the St. George Catholic Church grounds. 2022 will see a return to the Tabernacle, the interfaith event’s traditional venue.

“We’re excited to be back at the Tabernacle,” Rev. Jimi Kestin, of Solomon’s Foursquare Fellowship, told St. George News.

Prayer Over the City, which will mark its 17th year on Saturday, involves faith leaders from various Christian and non-Christian religions in Southern Utah who offer short prayers – usually one to two minutes – over varying facets of the community.

Between 15-17 local churches and faiths will be featured at the 2022 Prayer Over the City event, which will begin Saturday at noon at the St. George Tabernacle at 18 S. Main Street in St. George.

Music is provided by the Interfaith Choir, and the overall program lasts about an hour.

A Christian priest may offer a prayer for the area’s first responders to be protected and comforted as they undertake stressful and potentially dangerous roles, while a Jewish rabbi may ask God to look after the community’s educators who teach the children.

Prayers are also offered for officials in local, state and federal government, families in general, the military, those who feel lost and isolated or are trying to overcome fear and so on.

“This is such a great way to kickoff the new year,” Kestin said.

In this file photo, Rabbi Helene Ainbender of Beit Chaverim Jewish community, speaks at the “Prayer Over the City” event at the St. George Tabernacle, St. George, Utah, Jan. 1, 2019. | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Prayers are also offered for the community to be filled with unity and harmony in the new year, which is the general theme Prayer Over the City has maintained since its inception 17 years ago. That message of unity is needed now more than ever in the face of growing division across the country, Kestin said.

“All of our participants are willing to stand on that platform together without compromising any of our deeply held beliefs,” he said. “And yet, stand together with people who have different beliefs on the one thing that we can all agree on and that we all have in common, and that’s a desire to see this community be the best possible place to raise our families of life.

“We see more and more frequently that people won’t associate with people who don’t agree with them completely whether it’s politics or religion, whatever the case may be. … What we do agree on is the desire to come together in a spirit of unity that doesn’t require uniformity.”

In this file photo, a man prays at the “Prayer Over the City” event in St. George. During the event, members of different faiths offer short prayers of hope and unity for the community in the coming year , St. George, Utah, Jan. 1, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Many of the faiths involved are also a part of the St. George Interfaith Council which, like the prayer event, is focused in developing a sense of unity between the various religions found in the area.

For those unable to attend in person, Prayer Over the City will also be streamed live over the Solomon’s Porch Foursquare Fellowship Facebook page.

Prayer Over the City was originally the brainchild of Kestin and first held outside in Pioneer Park on the Red Hill with a handful of attendees. It eventually moved into the St. George Tabernacle where it’s continued with the exception of renovation work conducted on the building and the pandemic.

Ed. note: This article originally listed the St. George Interfaith Council’s Facebook page as the location of the online stream of the Prayer Over the City event. This was in error and has been corrected in the body of the text.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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