LUKE - The nearly 100 chairs that were set up Wednesday in the auditorium at the Luke City Building were quickly filled with local and area residents.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
LUKE - The nearly 100 chairs that were set up Wednesday in the auditorium at the Luke City Building were quickly filled with local and area residents.
Twice extra seating was placed in the room, and still many citizens stood to participate in the prayer rally for those affected by the June closing of the Verso Paper Mill.
The Rev. Ed Clemons Jr., also serving as mayor of Luke, said that after the announcement of the closing of Verso, and the initial shock, “I began to talk to others of the situation.”
Clemons, part of the Trinity-Keyser charge, said that he contacted clergy and churches “from Keyser to Elk Garden and all areas in between” to participate in a prayer rally.
“God is in control and knows what the future holds,” he said. “He knows what will happen in the future.”
Clemons said he then made plans to hold a rally centered on prayer and praise for people to come “and seek God,” and it would be nondenominational, with the doors of the Luke City Building open to everyone.
Mary Ann Leatherman of Westernport, a member of First Baptist Church, came to the rally because she said that she knows “God has a plan through all of this, and everything is in His hands.”
Joe Weber is employed at Verso in the multi-craft maintenance at eight and nine machine room, and he said the closure of the paper mill is “devastating to a lot of people,” and not only to the mill people, but also “contractors, suppliers and many other people will be affected.”
When Clemons opened the program, he said, “We are here for a call to prayer, and to ask for God’s favor on our communities.
“Darkness has fallen on this area,” he said, while asking those as they entered into prayer to remember every family and every community affected by the closing of Verso.
One of the ministers present was Paul Allen, of Cornerstone Ministries in McCoole, and he said that years ago he was a pastor in a small community in New York.
During that time a nearby paper mill closed, and God made a way for all the laid off employees to find other jobs.
Allen asked those in attendance to “walk out of here by faith,” because God is still on the throne.
The Rev. Scott Llewellyn, of the First Baptist Church, prayed for the community to seek wisdom “asking as King Solomon did.”
During the rally, live music was offered in addition to the praise and worship by those in attendance.