Letter to the Editor that ran in May 8, 2013, issue of The Item newspaper:
What an awesome three days we just had in Sumter!
I would like to start by thanking Mayor Joe McElveen, the City of Sumter and its administration for supporting prayer in our community. In a day and time when most communities are taking prayer and God out of every facet of our society, I’m truly thankful to say I am a native Sumterite and live in this great city that supports prayer and its houses of worship.
Thank you for taking that stand!
I would also like to thank everyone who came out to this year’s breakfast, alongwith those that attended the marriage conference held at the Opera House. It was indeed a SPARK for our community. Secondly, we could not have put on this annual event without the support of our outstanding sponsors. Space does not permit me to thank each of you individually and I would not want to leave anyone out. To view a
complete list of sponsors visit www.sumterprays.com. Lastly, I would like to thank the awesome steering committee that I served with -- they are the backbone of this event! Y’all ROCK!
Gone, but not forgotten: Stan Schaetzle set the bar high and we will forever begrateful for his many years of service to our community and this committee/cause. It was an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity. I look forward to what God has in store for next year’s breakfast on May 1, 2014.
In the meantime, if you are involved in a local church or have a passion for prayer I would love to hear from you. We need ambassadors to help get the word out each year about this great event. We’re simply looking for someone we can contact to help us spread the word. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 774-8665.
Last, but not least, all credit for any success goes to our Maker and Creator --thank you God for what you just did in our community! “When people work, people work. When people pray, God works!”
Chris M. Moore
Chairman, 2013 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Steering Committee
"How many people here believe that prayer is effective?"
That was the question put to attendees at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning. Hands shot up around the hall at Alice Drive Baptist Church when speaker Dale Forehand kicked off the National Day of Prayer by pressing the importance of prayer in our lives and in our relationships with others.
Forehand and his wife, Jena, speak from personal experience about how faith can affect relationships. The Birmingham, Ala., actually divorced before, they said, "the Holy Spirit melted the hardened mess of our hearts," and they found a way to continue their marriage. Now the couple gives talks on marriage at church-related functions across the country, including one at the Sumter Opera House on Friday and Saturday.
Both Forehands spoke at the breakfast about the importance of communicating with your spouse or anyone else important in your life, and of praying for them.
"Without our relationships, there's little in life worth living," Dale Forehand said. "We are the sum total of our relationships. And we all have people in our lives we need to pray for."
Years ago, Forehand heard from someone who told him he'd made a list of 30 people in his life who had helped him, and assigned each of them a day to receive a prayer.
"He set aside the 18th of every month to pray for me," Forehand said. "Can you imagine hearing someone say 'I prayed for you today,' what the effect of that is?"
He encouraged the audience to pray for the people in their own lives, and for those who need support like the mayor, the military, or the next generation.
Jena Forehand said it's important for the older generation to impart the information they already have to younger people, noting the Book of Deuteronomy repeats many legal commandments contained in earlier books of the Bible.
"The reason Deuteronomy repeats the law is because they already forgot it and the next generation doesn't know about it," she said.
If we commit ourselves to praying for someone else, "You can raise a canopy of prayer over them," Dale Forehand said. Even if the person prayed for is far away, "through prayer the distances get shorter."
Several other members of the community offered prayers directed at different functions or institutions, ranging from the military and media to education, church and family.
Former Sumter City Councilman Walter "Sonny" Newman offered a prayer for those in government.
"Give them the wisdom to know the right thing, and the strength to carry it out once it is clear," Newman said.
Ray Davenport, owner of Reliable Pawn Shop, prayed for business and industry, saying "We do nothing on our own. ... You are our most important partner."
Mayor Joe McElveen praised the work of the breakfast's organizing committee and sponsors in putting the event together and noted the efforts of former organizing chairman Stan Schaetzle, who helped revive the annual breakfast before he passed away last year. McElveen encouraged Sumter's religious believers to take the time to convert their commitment into action to improve their neighbors' lives.
"We are a community of faith," he said, "but the power of prayer comes when we put legs on our prayer."
Reach Bristow Marchant at (803) 774-1272.