The message at the 80th annual Rose Festival prayer service emphasized the participants’ responsibility to the welfare of Tyler, which they accomplish through their involvement in the Rose Festival.
“There’s a passage that underscores what we’re doing here,” said Jay Ferguson, headmaster at Grace Community School in Tyler. “The Israelites were in exile, and in Jeremiah 29, God tells them how to live. ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ So God speaks to us … We live in a beautiful city, but for those of us whose Lord is the Lord, this is not our true home.”
For decades, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city and the Chamber of Commerce have promoted the Texas Rose Festival as the city's star attraction. With decades of tradition behind it and popular events such as the Rose Parade, Queen's Tea and the Queen's Coronation ceremonies, the festival continues to attract tens of thousands from across the state and nation to the Rose Capital.
So, the Rose Festival is a way to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city,” Ferguson said.
“I loved the message,” said the duchess of the rose growers, Brooke Carroll. “I thought it was very appropriate for the situation. We do need to remember why we’re here.”
The Rose Queen, Miss Rachel Vanderpool Clyde, agreed.
“Jay hit the nail on the head,” she said. “He and my dad (Nelson Clyde) have been friends for a long time, so it was nice for him to be here. I will be thinking about what he said during the Rose Festival this weekend. Rose Festival is a great thing to pour yourself into.”