After witnessing other recent prayer rallies, Jermaine Jackson says he was motivated to hold another — specifically for the area’s youth.

“They are the next leaders, and we need to put a covering on them so they can walk in wisdom and counsel and understanding — especially with everything that is going on in our nation,” said Jackson, the youth pastor at Revive Church in Longview.

The crowd of about 100 people clustered in shaded areas Saturday outside the Gregg County Courthouse to listen to a music performance and prayers from six area pastors and speeches from Councilwoman Nona Snoddy and Chad Patterson with the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Pines.

Masks were the rule of the day, and the Rev. Shannon Pickard prayed for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the nation, calling for a “hedge of almighty God’s protection around our teenagers and our children this school year against this disease.”

Jackson said the goal of Saturday’s rally was twofold. The first was to let youth know that their physical well-being as well as their spiritual and mental health are cared for. The second goal was to bring adult leaders in the community together with the common goal of fighting for the betterment of area youth.

Echoing that thought, Snoddy cautioned the adults in attendance: “If we don’t teach our children to pray, then the world will teach them not to.”

For the youth, Snoddy praised the importance of what she called, “the three P’s”: be prepared, be productive and be prayerful.

“Pray for yourself, your family your friends — pray for our city, our state and our nation,” she told the crowd. “Pray because prayer still works.”