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Sunday May 29th, 2016 4:05AM

Gainesville community invited to rally in support of CHS

By B.J. Williams News Director
GAINESVILLE - The emotions are not subsiding over a letter an atheist group mailed this week to the Hall County School System protesting religious practices at Chestatee High School. <br /> <br /> Students at the high school gathered for prayer again Thursday morning at War Eagle Field behind the high school. The crowd was almost twice the size of the group that gathered Wednesday morning, the day after the letter from the American Humanist Association (AHA) was made public. That letter is demanding the school's football coaches stop participating in team prayers or face legal action.<br /> <br /> CHS Principal Suzanne Jarrard said while the school appreciates the community support, there was difficulty Thursday morning with traffic in the area because of the extra people - mainly adults from the community - who came to campus to pray with the students.<br /> <br /> "In the spirit of safety of our students, which is, of course, my first priority - I have an obligation to keep them safe - Lakewood [Baptist Church] has stepped up, and my understanding is that there will be a time for folks who would like to continue to support Chestatee [Friday] at 8 a.m.," said Jarrard.<br /> <br /> She said having community members gather off-site will help her staff keep a handle on those who are on the school campus, and it will prevent the school bus traffic jam that occurred Thursday morning.<br /> <br /> Lakewood Youth Pastor Jamie Willis confirmed that the church on Thompson Bridge Road had offered the church campus as a location for community prayer for Chestatee High School.<br /> <br /> Willis said it's not just students from Chestatee who have taken a stand for their faith, but students from schools all across the county and in the city of Gainesville.<br /> <br /> "We are so proud of them for the ways that they are taking a stand for Christ," said Willis.<br /> <br /> "We wanted to be able to provide an outlet for adults, parents and other people in the community to come and have a chance to meet and to pray for our students."<br /> <br /> Willis said the gathering will begin at 8 a.m. around the flag pole at the front of the church. He said the event will be informal - something where people can stop by on their way to work.<br /> <br /> "What we're going to do for a few minutes is read Scripture together and then pray," said Willis. "The goal is to be able to pray for our students and for our schools, for all the teachers and principals. They're the ones living this stuff day in and day out at the schools."<br /> <br />
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