Bobby Elliott steps aside as Backyard Brotherhood director

Published 9:30 am Friday, January 27, 2023

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VALLEY — Bobby Elliott is stepping aside as director of the local men’s prayer ministry he and four friends started in his backyard in Langdale over 20 years ago. The Backyard Brotherhood will continue under its new leader, Joe Guntherberg, and Elliott will have a less demanding role.

The last few years have been difficult for Elliott with Covid-19, the loss of his beloved wife, Mary Ann and some health problems of his own. Even so, he hosted a Backyard Brotherhood Day on the River this past June to celebrate 20 years of local men from different churches getting together on Tuesdays to pray for their fellow man.

Elliott’s long-time group leadership was recognized at this week’s prayer service, held at 11 a.m. at Langdale Congregational Christian Church. Members of the Brotherhood presented him with a plaque thanking him for founding the group and leading it for over two decades. Mayor Leonard Riley gave him a proclamation from the City of Valley commending him for the positive role the Backyard Brotherhood has had for the entire local area for over two decades.

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The Brotherhood started in 2003 with some prayer between Elliott and some long-time friends in a shop building behind Elliott’s Langdale home. Handley Davis, Charles Hall, Richard Perryman and Bo Royal were with him. The subject came up that many people in the world, some in their own neighborhoods, needed someone to pray for them but would not ask for it. Those five Christian men decided then and there to pray for anyone and everyone who needed it, whether it be for a health crisis, military service, problems with a loved one, or those who just needed the Lord to touch their hearts.

Just before the men went their separate ways, Elliott told them he’d like to keep meeting in this manner.

“I will never forget Richard telling me that he’d like to be back at the same time next week,” Elliott said. “We started meeting every Tuesday.”

As word got around about what was happening in Bobby’s backyard, more men started coming to those Tuesday morning prayer meetings. Elliott then decided to change the meeting place from his backyard shop to the Langdale Congregational Christian Church, where he was the pastor.

Participation and prayer requests grew in the ensuing years. Pastors and members of other churches in the Valley area made it a point to be there on Tuesdays to pray for anyone in need and the nation and its leaders in general.

The Day on the River celebrations drew good crowds and had lots of good singing and good food to go along with the prayer requests.

One of the singers, Leonard Thrower, would play his guitar and sing a song he wrote entitled “Bobby’s Backyard Brotherhood.”

Elliott said he would always be grateful he could get his wife, Mary Ann, to one of the Day on the River celebrations. “She had always wanted to go to it,” he said. “I’m so glad we were able to get her to one of them.”