EAST LIVERPOOL - The Rev. Dr. H. Gene Toot will be the keynote speaker for this year's National Day of Prayer Breakfast.
The breakfast will be held at 7:30 a.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church, 200 W. Fifth St., East Liverpool. The venue was changed following the recently-announced closing of the East Liverpool Motor Lodge.
Toot, 85, of East Liverpool, in addition to his wide-ranging community involvement, is best known for his tenure as senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church from 1967 to 1995. He was associate pastor there in the early 1960s, following early pastorates at Presbyterian churches in Hopedale and Annapolis in Jefferson County.
Toot was instrumental in developing the outdoor Easter Pageant on the Hill, a tradition in East Liverpool since the inaugural performance in 1978. He wrote the pageant script that is still in use today and has portrayed various roles over the years.
Known for his prize dahlias, Toot is president and founder of the East Liverpool Dahlia and Floral Society. He enjoys growing and showing his dahlias around the area each fall, including at the society's annual show in September.
Toot currently is chairman of the Community Prayer Breakfast committee and serves on the East Liverpool Design Review board and the East Liverpool-Fawcett Community Foundation board.
Offering the prayers on Thursday will be the Rev. Dick Smith of Good Shepherd Methodist Church, the Rev. Eric Antwi of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Chester, the Rev. Merrill Williams of First Church of the Nazarene, and Linda Carmody of the Tri-State Chaplaincy Committee.
Special music will be presented by the Covenant Choir of Second Baptist Church.
East Liverpool Mayor James Swoger will offer a welcome, and Todd Alexander, president of the Southern Columbiana County Regional Chamber of Commerce board of directors, will give the community response.
Originating in the early 1970s as a Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, the event later became part of the National Day of Prayer, which falls on the first Thursday of May. The modern version of the National Day of Prayer dates back to 1952.
The prayer breakfast is organized by a committee whose members represent a wide variety of denominations.
Because First UMC can accommodate 225 guests, a limited number of tickets will be available for sale this year. Parking will be available in church lots off Fourth Street and the Dawson Funeral Home lots on Fifth Street.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at 1st National Community Bank branches and the Sixth Street office of the Southern Columbiana County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Tickets also can be purchased from the following prayer breakfast committee members: Martha Bentz, Harry Comm, Mary and Alfred Fricano, Betty Hartman, the Rev. Tanta Hendricks, Ginny and Paul Jackson, Charles Lang, the Rev. Ernest Peachy, John Richman, the Rev. Dale Sutton, Claire Unrue and the Rev. Gene Toot.
At noon Thursday, a National Day of Prayer event also will be held on the steps of East Liverpool City Hall.