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While the weight of grief continues to be present, Thomas and Jodie Barrett have chosen to concentrate on the joy in life rather than sadness.  

Again this year, along with a host of volunteers, they will stage The Community Prayer Tree beside their home at 787 Rivers Edge Parkway in Roanoke Rapids.  

This event, and the Prayer Tree, is in memory of Ryan Barrett, George Cesil, and James "Bo" Ussery.  

The community is invited to join them in praying.   

Placed beside the tree, a mailbox will hold tags, protective sleeves, and pens, allowing visitors to write a prayer request and place it on the tree.  

Benches are present this year so that those stopping by may sit for a while and pray for their request and the others that have been placed on the tree.

“Last year we found healing, peace, joy, laughter, tears, and love at the foot of the tree. It was beautiful to have our community circle around the tree every Monday night from the beginning of December to the end,” said Jodie. “Again, we want to hold hands, offer prayer, sing songs of worship, and support one another as we fellowship and gather beneath the tree.”

Tammy Jean of Creative Designs and Gifts, located at 412 Becker Drive in Roanoke Rapids, will be joining the Barrett Family this year by displaying a prayer tree and a mailbox holding prayer tags outside of her shop. 

While there will not be a scheduled event at this location, people are encouraged to stop by and place a prayer on this tree also. 

Last year, scores of people came to the Barrett’s home to decorate the Community Prayer Tree with prayer cards and watch as its lights were turned on.

Jodie anticipates the tree will be laden with cards again this year as each Monday through Christmas different church groups will aid visitors by helping them with cards and praying with them from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

According to Kimberly Graybeal, Prayer Tree Coordinator, each Monday night in December will be diverse and unique because of the generosity of the community and its neighbors. 

As a special conclusion on the evening of December 23, luminarias will be lit in memory of others, providing a peaceful atmosphere of joy and hope.

The Monday schedule is as follows:

December 2: Members of Good News Baptist Church and Edward Jones-Financial Advisor Brad Smith and Angie Acree will host.

December 9: Members of the ESL community will be at the tree.

December 16:  Members of East Tenth Street Christian Church will be at the tree with The Pregnancy Support Center volunteers.

December 23: Donna Fender and Faithfully Following Ministries along with Hope for Hardy will be present.