The Rev. Matt Bender stepped forward with his eyes closed and his head bowed.

Just before, Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan sprayed disinfectant in a circular motion around the podium, and took a dab of hand sanitizer.

While also keeping a social distance of at least six feet, everyone was mindful of all necessary precautions.

Bender, of The Church International, joined a group of local spiritual leaders March 31 for an afternoon live stream.

Sullivan organized the group to join him after his regularly-scheduled COVID-19 update at Donaldsonville City Hall.

The pastors included: Rev. Roland Julien of St. Phillip Baptist, Rev. Darryl Smith of Mt. Zion Baptist, and Rev. Matt Dupre of Ascension of Our Lord and St. Francis Catholic.

Dupre began the service by asking a blessing for all leaders.

“We ask that you grant them wisdom to keep us all well and safe,” Dupre said.

Julien offered prayers for all schools, including every student as well as the faculty and staff members during this time.

Bender lifted health professionals in prayer at a trying time for hospitals and medical facilities around the world.

“We ask that you cover them, and protect them,” Bender said.

Smith thanked the Mayor for bringing together the spiritual leaders from churches around the area.

“If ever there was a time to pray, the time is now,” he said.

Sullivan expressed appreciation for the spiritual leaders coming together to offer prayers for “all walks of life.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards and leaders around the state are fasting and praying at noon every Tuesday, Sullivan said.

“Let us come together in fasting and prayer,” Sullivan concluded.