Hundreds of Sumter's community members spent their morning taking in inspiration during the 2016 Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at Alice Drive Baptist Church on Thursday morning.
Community members prayed for education, families, churches, government, military, business and industry and media in Sumter.
Attendees also listened to performances by Lakewood High School Choir and Sumter Civic Chorale.
Keynote speaker Germaine Copeland, author of the "Prayers that Avail Much" book series and president and founder of Word Ministries Inc., an international prayer network, talked with the audience about how the gospel is a guiding and teaching tool.
"As citizens, we can choose not just to be religious but to live the more abundant life," Copeland said.
Worship in spirit and truth, she said.
Copeland said she attended churches of different denominations and that helped her grow as a Christian.
People of the church should lay aside their differences, prejudices and pride as they worship, she said.
"We all serve one god," Copeland said.
It's time for the church to walk in love, she said.
Copeland said when her prayers are not answered she asks herself if she is truly walking in the love of God or hindering her own blessings.
One day while thanking God for mankind, Copeland began to see the faces of individuals she had not specifically thought to include.
She said the church must also be thankful for individuals who differ from them and individuals they may not hold in high favor.
It's so easy to say you are thankful for everyone, she said.
Copeland said she was happy to learn that lesson.
She said obeying the word of God changed an attitude she did not know she had.
"Aren't you thankful for the Holy Spirit who helps us?" she asked.
The light of God's word will expose the things that are contrary to the gospel, Copeland said.
People are looking for answers and they can only be found in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, she said.
Story by ADRIENNE SARVIS of The Sumter Item.
Sumterites of all religious denominations are invited to attend the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast on May 7 at 6:30 a.m. at Alice Drive Baptist Church, 1305 Loring Mill Road. The breakfast line will open at 6:30 a.m. and the program will begin promptly at 7:30 a.m.
Prayer Breakfast Committee Chair Chris Moore said the event, which is held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer, is a great opportunity for everyone in the community to rally around faith and encourage others to strive to make a difference in the city and surrounding areas. The theme for this year's prayer breakfast is "Lord, hear our cry."
The keynote speaker is Vietnam War veteran Patrick Cleburne "Clebe" McClary. The recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, McClary will provide an encouraging message about the importance of faith and prayer.
Also, community leaders will give prayers for seven important areas of Sumter: government, military, media, business and industry, education, church and family.
The event is funded solely by community donations and sponsorships. The deadline for donations is Friday, April 10.
Donations of any amount will be accepted, but guests can take part in three sponsorship opportunities: the "Red" sponsorship of $500, which includes 10 tickets; the "White" sponsorship of $300 for six tickets; and the "Blue" sponsorship of $100, which includes two tickets. All donations will go toward funding the event and all sponsors will be included on the program and will be recognized during the breakfast.
Checks should be made out to "Mayor's Prayer Breakfast" and the mailing address for donations is Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, 12 Frank Clarke St., Sumter, S.C. 29150.
Tickets for the breakfast are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at The Olive Tree Christian Bookstore, 600 Bultman Drive or at the Swan Lake Visitors Center, 822 W. Liberty St.
Moore said the prayer breakfast committee has incentives for those who are interested in selling tickets and encouraging others in the community to attend.
Moore said the Sumter community is very fortunate to still host a prayer breakfast every year. "It's a day for us to encourage others and for us to be encouraged to look to where our blessings come from," he said.
For more information about the event, tickets or donations, contact Chris Moore at (803) 774-8665 firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAYOR'S PRAYER BREAKFAST
WHEN: Thursday, May 7, 2015
WHERE: Alice Drive Baptist Church, 1305 Loring Mill Road
TICKETS: $10 in advance; $15 at the door.
MAILING ADDRESS FOR DONATIONS: Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, 12 Frank Clarke St., Sumter, S.C. 29150
CONTACT: Chris Moore at (803) 774-8665 or email@example.com
Story by ADRIENNE SARVIS of The Sumter Item.
Two weeks from now, the theme for the 2014 Mayor's Prayer Breakfast will be announced.
The committee is hosting a free Community Kick-off Luncheon starting at 11:45 a.m. March 7 at the Sumter City Centre, 25 N. Main St.
"The program will only be about 15 minutes," said Chris Moore, chairman of the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast committee. "Mayor (Joe) McElveen will be welcoming everyone. I'll say a few words as the chairman. We will also show our promotional video (and) be giving them CDs with everything that they will need to help promote this year's breakfast."
The theme will be revealed at this event.
Fifteen churches have already registered for the kickoff.
"This event is open to all area pastors or their key lay leaders, past sponsors and potential new sponsors," Moore said. "Spots are first come. We have half of our slots filled thus far, (and) I'm excited that we have numerous denominations represented."
Conducted in conjunction with National Day of Prayer, this year's breakfast will be held at 6:30 a.m. May 1 at the Sumter County Civic Center. The speaker will be Ken Bevel, a retired Marine captain now serving as an associate pastor of assimilation and events at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. He may be best known for his roles in "Fireproof" and "Courageous."
Tickets for the prayer breakfast are $10 in advance. They will be $12 at the door the day of the event.
"We are also blessed to have a great mayor that welcomes prayer and realizes that to properly and effectively lead people he needs the wisdom that comes from almighty God," said the Rev. Al Sims, pastor at Bethesda Church of God. "One of the reasons Sumter is such a great place to live is because we still have praying leadership and praying people. I hope all the lead pastors in our city and county will be a part of and help promote this year's Mayor's Prayer Breakfast."
For more information or to register for either event, contact Chris Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 774-8665.
Reach Jade Reynolds at (803) 774-1250.
There have been a couple of changes to the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast this year.
For one, it won't be held at a church. The last four or five years, it has been held at Alice Drive Baptist Church or Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church.
"I'm excited to hold the breakfast on neutral ground," said Chris Moore, chairman for the Sumter Mayor's Prayer Breakfast Committee. "We are blessed to hold it in the Sumter County Civic Center for our entire community. We are blessed to live in a community that supports prayer."
Another new facet, instead of relying on printed materials sent through the postal service or information sent by electronic means, is that the committee will hold a kick-off luncheon for pastors, lay leaders and other church ambassadors March 7.
"We want to meet face to face, have a quick lunch and say here is what we're doing," Moore said. "It's key for area churches to come alongside us and call people to prayer."
Lunch will be provided, so a head count is requested. To register or for more information, email@example.com or (803) 774-8665.
"We know they are busy," Moore said. "We want to provide the tools necessary to promote the event within their congregations. It's free lunch with fellow pastors, ministers and leaders. What do you have to lose?"
Conducted in conjunction with National Day of Prayer, the annual event has drawn from just under 300 to 400 people and speakers from retired NBA players and CNN news anchors to the daughters of Billy Graham.
This year's speaker is Ken Bevel, a retired Marine Captain probably most known for his role in "Fireproof" and "Courageous."
"He spoke at Shaw Air Force Base before, and he did phenomenal there," Moore said. "Now he can address the entire community."
He currently serves as an associate pastor of assimilation and events at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.
The committee is still working with Bevel to develop this year's theme, Moore said. But sponsorships are available now.
"This is not a making money event," Moore said. "We're trying to break even. Speakers cost between $8,000 and $10,000. We need the support of local churches and local businesses."
Tickets for the prayer breakfast are also available and are $10 in advance. They will be $12 at the door the day of the event.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Sumter Mayor's Breakfast on Facebook or sumterprays.com
Reach Jade Reynolds at (803) 774-1250.
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.
For more than a decade, people from all over Sumter County have come together each year to pray for the nation, state and community at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast.
This year, the event will be held at Alice Drive Baptist Church, 1305 Loring Mill Road, on the date of the National Day of Prayer, May 2. After breakfast, which kicks off at 6:30 a.m., the 7:30 a.m. program will feature a specific time of prayer during which community leaders will lead attendees in prayers for various aspects of daily and community life. The event will focus on the importance of prayer in families.
"Our primary focus is on the healing power of prayer," said Chris Moore, event chairman. "We all have relationships that need mending."
Moore hails the breakfast as the first in a three-day event, as admission to the breakfast also gains one entry into a two-day marriage seminar to be on May 3 and 4 at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St. Guest speakers Dale and Jena Forehand, a couple who travel the nation leading similar events, will conduct the seminar.
"This is something very special," Moore said. "We are considering this a gift for those who have supported us in the past."
Tickets for the breakfast are $10, but Moore said if you can't make it to the breakfast, you can still attend the seminar. The cost to attend the seminar alone is $10 but is free with the purchase of a breakfast ticket.
"Our prayer is that this will be a spark for our community," Moore said.
He said event officials are looking for individuals and organizations to help sponsor the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. Sponsorship opportunities are open until April 22. For more information on becoming a sponsor, contact Bronwyn McElveen at (864) 430-4540.
A block of 100 tickets is available - first come, first serve - through the Shaw Air Force Base Chapel, free to active military. The general public can purchase tickets to the events through Swan Lake Visitor's Center, 822 W. Liberty St.; the Olive Tree Christian Bookstore, 600 Bultman Drive; or through members of the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast Steering Committee.
For more information on the event, visit www.sumterprays.com.
A new feature added this year to the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast will extend activities beyond the Thursday-morning breakfast and into the first weekend in May.
The featured speakers for this year's prayer breakfast, scheduled for the National Day of Prayer on May 2, will stay in town to host a two-day marriage conference, and anyone attending the breakfast will be able to go to the conference for free.
"Since last year, we've been looking to do something broader once we had the breakfast, and God just opened a door for us," said Chris Moore, who is chairing the prayer breakfast committee this year.
The weekend conference will draw on the talents of speakers Dale and Jena Forehand, a Birmingham, Ala., couple who speak about ways to strengthen marriage at church-related functions across the country.
"In the Friday-Saturday conference, we'll walk through the core areas we face to keep your marriage alive and thriving," Dale Forehand said in a phone interview from Alabama.
Forehand and his wife have been performing their marriage ministry for 14 years, traveling to 10 states this year alone, and have also appeared on "The 700 Club."
The couple focuses on renewing and strengthening the bonds of marriage for men and women wherever they are in their relationship.
"Some couples have just lost that connection," Forehand said. "If we have the challenges of going all over the place, going to the ball game, even going to church, we can put our energy into everything except our relationships."
The Forehands' techniques are based on their own experience rebuilding their own relationship after the couple divorced and then re-married each other.
"We found the real keys to marriage after eight-and-a-half years of doing things differently," Forehand said.
The marriage conference will hold sessions on the evening of May 3 and morning and afternoon sessions on May 4, all at the Sumter Opera House on North Main Street. Moore hopes all the churches involved with the prayer breakfast will promote the conference to their members.
"In order for this to be a success, we needed to hold it on neutral ground," he said. "So it's not an Alice Drive thing or a First Baptist thing or a Jehovah (Missionary Baptist) thing. So we approached the city, since the breakfast bears the mayor's name, and they let us hold it at the Opera House."
Organizers want the conference to draw a large cross-section of the community.
"People will say, 'Well, my marriage doesn't have any problems,' but it's not just for people with problems," Moore said. "It's about having a relationship with the Lord. If you put God at the center of your relationship and both draw closer to Him, you'll also draw closer together."
Prior to the conference, the Forehands will also be featured as the speakers at the prayer breakfast, hosted this year by Alice Drive Baptist Church. Their remarks there will focus on the broader theme of human relationships in general.
"We'll share the power of relationships, whether it's as a coach or a principal or a doctor," Dale Forehand said. "We'll talk about what God wants us to do in our relationships."
Tickets for this year's prayer breakfast are $10. For more information, call (803) 436-2640, or visitwww.sumterprays.com. More information on the Forehands can be found at www.daleandjena.com.
Hundreds of people gathered Thursday to pray for as many parts of the community as they could in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer.
First, an early morning crowd turned out for the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, and later in the day speakers stood on the steps of the courthouse for another series of prayers to strengthen and support the city and the nation.
In the morning, visitors filled the M.H. Newton Family Life Enrichment Center at Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church on Manning Avenue for the 11th annual prayer breakfast.
Besides Mayor Joe McElveen, members of the clergy, the military, other officials and young people all took part in the breakfast event, and the keynote address was given by former NBA star A.C. Green.
Dr. Les Carpenter, dean of the University of South Carolina Sumter, presided over the breakfast, noting the history of the National Day of Prayer. He said the Continental Congress called for a National Day of Prayer in 1775 as the nation struggled to establish its independence. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation of a day of prayer during the depths of the Civil War. In 1952, President Harry Truman established an annual day of prayer to be set by presidential proclamation, and in 1988, President Ronald Reagan established the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.
McElveen said despite the name of the event's being the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, "everything you see here requires organization, and the mayor's not doing that, it's our organizing committee," including the long-serving committee chairman Stan Schaetzle, who stepped down for this year's breakfast due to illness.
"He's never been up on this stage, and he wouldn't want to be," McElveen said, "but Stan Schaetzle, and Jesus Christ, are the reason we're here today, with Jesus working through Stan."
Schaetzle wasn't able to attend Thursday's breakfast, but McElveen said at the earliest opportunity he intends to present him with the Gamecock Society Award.
McElveen also delivered the prayer for government, one of several prayers meant to thank God and call heavenly attention to different institutions. Master Sgt. Sean Fitzwilliam, Third Army master chaplain assistant, prayed for the military, Chris Moore with SumterPrays.com prayed for the media, Beverly Gagne with SAFE Federal Credit Union prayed for business and industry, Lakewood High School student Aaron Watts prayed for education, City Councilman Calvin Hastie prayed for area churches, and YMCA CEO Kimberly Cousineau prayed for the family.
In his keynote speech, Green, who has been active with the A.C. Green Youth Foundation both during and after his playing career, talked about the need for young people like the students in the audience to grow up with a role model.
"You have to model respect. Your actions speak louder than words," he told the breakfast audience. "You want to know how to connect to young people? Show them a Christianity and a Jesus that they want in their life."
In Green's case, it was a teacher he had his senior year of high school.
"I had just won a state championship, I had a new car, I had a scholarship, I was going to college in a few months," he said, "but even at 17, I took notice of something in this man."
Green's teacher took him to church, a church where "nobody looked like me. It was all white, even on the outside."
That visit led Green to deepen his faith, something that has motivated him throughout his career.
"Everything about me, my size, my skin, my 18-size shoes, comes from God. God places us here for his honor and glory," he said. "Let him be your head coach."
Reach Bristow Marchant at (803) 774-1272.
A former NBA star and current youth foundation leader will be in Sumter on Thursday as part of the National Day of Prayer.
A.C. Green is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that brings together faith leaders and members of the community.
Green played 16 seasons in the National Basketball Association, most of them with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won three NBA championships with the Lakers in 1987, 1988 and 2000 - sharing the court with everyone from Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. In 1997, Green set a new NBA "Iron Man" record when he played in his 1,192nd consecutive game.
During and after his playing career, Green has been active in community involvement efforts. He founded the A.C. Green Youth Foundation in 1989 to promote sexual abstinence education. The foundation has worked to create school curricula, videos and leadership camps to build self-esteem and character in young people and teach moral and ethical principles that will help them make responsible decisions in life.
On Thursday morning, Green will speak at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at the M.H. Newton Family Life Enrichment Center of the Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church at 415 Manning Ave. The breakfast annually draws hundreds to hear speakers expound on the themes of the National Day of Prayer, held on the first Thursday in May. The theme for this year's breakfast is youth development.
"That dovetails into what he's doing with the youth foundation," said Jim Field, chairman of the breakfast's steering committee. "It's about the importance of having a mentor. The community has worked hard to develop a (mentoring) program with the schools. We've done a good job with the amount of people involved."
The breakfast alternates each year between the Family Life Enrichment Center and Alice Drive Baptist Church, often attracting more than 500 people.
"Those are the only venues large enough to hold that many people," Field said.
Although the breakfast is formally hosted by the mayor of Sumter, the event is organized by a private steering committee led until this year by retired Lt. Col. Stan Schaetzle.
"When I was elected there had not been one for several years," said Mayor Joe McElveen. "I believe it may have been one of the first city-wide events held in the south-central area when the second one was held at Jehovah."
"I'm a friend of Stan Schaetzle, and I got involved with him," Field said. "Prior to that, I think there was one other group that did one, but Stan really wanted to expand it."
This year's breakfast will be served at 6:45 a.m., with the program commencing at 7:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 ($5 tax deductible) in advance, and $12 ($7 tax deductible) the day of the event. The theme for this year's breakfast is "Inspiring God's Children."
Organizers believe the breakfast has been such a success because it has been able to attract speakers who give their audience a new way of looking at things.
"We have good speakers who bring their life experience and knowledge to the event, and people hopefully see how they can apply that in their own lives," McElveen said. "It's one of the major faith events or spiritual events in the community that brings together people of all faiths. We had a speaker one year who said to me, 'I've been to a lot of prayer breakfasts, and I've never been to one where we actually prayed.'"
"It's kind of an outreach group. (The speakers) try to pass on what they've learned to others," Field said. "Not everyone can be at the prayer breakfast, but the people who are there can pass on what they got out of it."
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Swan Lake Visitors' Center at (803) 436-2640, online atwww.sumterprays.com or by e-mailing email@example.com.