Mayor Leads Annual Prayer Breakfast
By REBECCA HOEFFNER
Prayers of guidance for government and community leaders and prayers of thanksgiving for religious freedom were lifted up Thursday morning as part of the 21st annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast in Tyler.
About 800 people attended the event in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer.
"It's an opportunity for leaders to come together with citizens and pray for our schools and government," said Danny Lewis, who's attended the event for the last four or five years. "It's very encouraging to see and be a part of."
City Councilman Jason Wright announced before the prayers began that the state of Texas recognized Mayor Barbara Bass for her commitment to pray with a flag to be flown over the state's capitol.
"I was surprised and very humbled," Mayor Bass said. "We are a community of faith in a state with a very strong faith foundation."
This year showcased a different form of entertainment: a dramatization of people of all ages and walks of life kneeling at a cross while David Berryhill, worship pastor at Rose Heights Church, sang Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace: My Chains are Gone."
This year's theme was "One Nation under God: 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,' Psalm 33:12."
"That theme should be a part of our lives each and every day," Mayor Bass said. "God is part of who we are as people and as a nation."
Different officials and community leaders prayed for different topics at the event.
Councilman Wright prayed for local and county governments; Judge Sam Griffith, 12th Court of Appeals justice, prayed for state and federal government; Joe Boylan, of the Boys and Girls Club of East Texas, prayed for local nonprofits and the education system; and Mary Elizabeth Jackson, of Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, prayed for the local medical and business community.
Even though the prayer and worship were decidedly Christian, members of other faiths attended. Rabbi Alan Learner of Congregation Ahavath Achim, said he attends because of the importance of prayer, and isn't bothered by the Christian tone because of the Torah's emphasis on respect for all religions.
"Every day is important and you should pray," Rabbi Learner said. "But to come together as a community and recognize the National Day of Prayer is truly representative of how God intended for all humanity to come together to worship him and give thanks, and it is through God that all blessings flow, and we need all the blessings we can get."
The mayor also encouraged attendees to participate in the Transformation Tyler rally May 10 to 12, and to pray coinciding with officials in Washington at 5:45 p.m. as part of "Washington: A Man of Prayer," to be held at Statuary Hall of The Capitol in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. The event is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and members of Congress will be invited to pray together.
The mayor encouraged residents to keep praying throughout the rest of the National Day of Prayer.
"After this, your day has nowhere to go but up, up, up, because you are starting it with a great blessing."