For the third time since the April election brought a new mayor, the local pastor who opens the city board of aldermen meeting with a prayer, preceded his prayer with a scriptural reading urging leaders to listen to each other.
A rotation of pastors from the Pacific Area Ministerial Alliance provides the opening prayer at the twice-monthly board meetings.
At the May 6 board meeting, the Rev. David Lang made a call for unity, introducing his prayer with a plea for peace among officials by quoting Romans Chapter 13.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established,” the Rev. Lang said. “It goes on and tells us, this is why we pay our taxes, for authorities are God’s servants who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him. If you owe taxes pay taxes, if you owe revenue, then revenue, if respect then respect.”
At the June 17 board meeting, the Rev Thomas Wilkins mentioned the Proverbs verse that says there is safety in a multitude of counselors.
“I appreciate this council,” the Rev. Wilkins said. “Proverbs tells us that in a multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Speaking at the July 1 board meeting, Elder Harold Harrelson added his voice to the call for many counselors, saying he wanted to read two verses from Proverbs before offering a prayer.
“Where no counsel is, the people fail; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” he read.
The city board meetings have been opened with a prayer, offered by a rotation of pastors, for the past two years. Former mayor Herb Adams started the practice.
Although some citizens have complained about prayer in government meetings, those concerns were put to rest recently when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities can open their government meetings with a prayer without fear of breaking the law.
Prior to the April election, opening prayers were limited to thanks to God for public officials and requests for wisdom and guidance for them.
Pacific officials have made no public comments on the new direction in opening prayers, but at the July 1 meeting, after Elder Harrelson’s prayer, the meeting was civil and without rancor.