WASHINGTON (WJZ) -- Hundreds of churches gather on the steps of Capitol Hill, marking the annual "National Day of Prayer."
It comes at a time when church leaders are calling for unity in light of recent racist remarks made by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
As Gigi Barnett explains, one Columbia church that celebrates diversity was featured in the day's events.
For the choir at Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, every day is a day of prayer. But Thursday, it's a national event. The church is one of thousands gathering on the steps of Capitol Hill and at state houses around the country to pray.
"Just celebrating people's freedom to celebrate their faith openly. I think it's one of the things that makes our country so strong," said Diana Livi, Bridgeway Community Church member.
"I think my prayer for today would be that there is a lot of love spread between different cultures," said Elizabeth Walls, Bridgeway Community Church member.
Bridgeway was selected in part because organizers say the church looks much like America.
"People from every different color, class and culture are represented at Bridgeway," Pastor David Anderson said.
Anderson says that's exactly what he had in mind when he founded Bridgeway.
The church's invitation to the national event comes at a time when the country is grappling with controversial race issues. It's just days after the NBA handed down a lifetime ban to L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for making racist comments about African-Americans.
Anderson says Sterling's punishment isn't the answer to the country's healing--forgiveness is.
"I want to have a personal conversation with Donald Sterling, I want to have a personal conversation with klansmen, I want to have a personal conversation with anyone who hurts me," Anderson said. "Because I want to be able to build bridges of reconciliation."
As they head to Capitol Hill, church members say that's the message they want lawmakers to hear as well.
"People mess up pretty big, and [Sterling] messed up pretty big. But we have a choice--we can forgive, we can move on," said Nikki Lerner, Bridgeway Community Church member.
The National Day of Prayer is every first Thursday in May. Congress created it back in 1952 and President Truman signed it into law.
President Obama issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation on the White House's website. In it, he says Americans should give thanks for their blessings, including the right to pray.
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