The two local ministers who participated in a prayer rally Sunday in Longview focused their prayers on protecting students from school shootings and from bullies.

The Revs. Jeffrey E. Borgwardt of First Lutheran Church and Ray Coates of Highridge Church alternated short prayers outside Longview Christian School in advance of students returning to area schools this week and next. The Longview Clergy Coalition and Longview Area Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance sponsored the rally.

Borgwardt and Coates were the only people who attended other than members of the news media, with Coates saying he didn’t know why other people didn’t participate. Pastors were responsible for notifying their congregants about the event, he said. The twice-annual rallies have drawn anywhere from five to 50 people, and 12 to 15 people attended the rally during the summer of 2017, Borgwardt said.

The ministers prayed for God’s protection, with Coates mentioning active shooters who have terrorized schools, one as recently as May 18 at Santa Fe High School in Texas where 10 people were killed.

Borgwardt followed, asking God to protect children from bullies, and he prayed for teachers.

“I pray that you would bless the instructors,” he said. “Give them the patience and understanding.”

Coates said children need to know they are loved. Sometimes one teacher can have a tremendous effect on a child’s life, he said.

“Give them wisdom, Father, in Jesus’s name,” he said.

Borgwardt also called for recognition of other school employees, such as bus drivers.

He said Longview and Gregg County as a whole are “open-minded” and have “open hearts,” and he called for supporting teachers and other school staff.