WASHINGTON — Thank God gas prices are coming down. So says Rocky Twyman, quite literally, after leading a string of prayer vigils at pumps nationwide to appeal for some divine intervention.
Twyman, a Rockville, Md., choir director and public relations consultant, last Wednesday gathered about a dozen people at a Shell station in Washington as they joined in prayer and thanked God for prices now ebbing from highs of about $4 a gallon early in the summer.
"He's got the whole world in his hands," they sang, improvising an extra line as they clapped in unison: "He's got lower gas prices in his hands."
Twyman said he believes the vigils, which he started after seeing the stinging effects of high gas prices on a Washington-area soup kitchen, are working.
God "owns everything, he owns the gas," exclaimed Twyman, a Seventh-day Adventist. "All we have to do is ask and we shall receive."
Twyman has led similar vigils in recent months in Detroit; Huntsville, Ala.; San Francisco; St. Louis and Toledo, Ohio.
His "Pray at the Pump" movement began in April with a spontaneous vigil at a gas station a few blocks from the First Church of Seventh-day Adventists in northwest Washington, where he does charity work.
He said high gas prices prompted some soup kitchen volunteers who commute from the suburbs to think of quitting. He also said recent economic troubles meant reduced donations to an area food bank the soup kitchen depends on for provisions.
"These gas prices were really killing a lot of them," Twyman said of the elderly.
Pastor: 'We've embraced him'
The pastor at the church, Mark McCleary, credits Twyman with drawing attention to community efforts that might otherwise go overlooked.
"We've embraced him," said McCleary, who has participated in the "Pray at the Pump" movement.
Twyman isn't new to the limelight. He has led drives to encourage minorities to donate bone marrow, raised money for disaster victims and last year, organized a gospel concert at an Atlanta church to pray for rain during a Southeast drought.
"I just follow whatever God tells me to do," said Twyman, wearing a bright African dashiki he calls his "prayer warrior shirt."
During the vigil here, he called on Saudi Arabia to boost oil production to help lower prices and for people to walk and car pool more. The prayer vigil drew stares from motorists waiting to fill up as some attendants shooed participants onto a sidewalk after complaining they blocked access to the station.
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