In the past five years of the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, Tyler residents have thanked God for blessing the city, prayed for the unemployed, homeless and sick in East Texas and expressed concern for a “world in crisis.”
Tyler residents will gather again on Thursday for the 21st annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. The event is the same day as the 61st annual National Day of Prayer. The national theme this year is “One Nation under God: ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,’ Psalm 33:12.”
“I think the emphasis and the reason this theme was chosen is to acknowledge that no nation can exist without the blessings of God,” said Kim Beckham, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Tyler and member of the breakfast committee. “Military might cannot make a nation strong. Taking the time to pray is important, not because it changes the mind of the Lord but because it keeps us in perspective.”
The National Day of Prayer was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman. The first Thursday of every May is designated by Congress as a National Day of Prayer.
“It’s very important that we remember why we were founded as a country; we were created based on freedom of religion,” Mayor Barbara Bass said. “As a faith community in Tyler, Texas, we have an opportunity to focus on prayer and the importance of prayer in our lives.”
Last year, a concern for the country and international community motivated many people to get up early or even take off work for the day, as was the case with Bertha Adams.
“Today the world is in such a crisis,” she said at last year’s event. “I pray daily, but it’s good to hear others’ prayers and know we’re in the same boat.”
In 2010, a focus on community motivated attendees to pray for the homeless, the unemployed, prisoners and their families and the health needs of East Texas residents.
Mayor Bass reflected in 2009 on the reasons for a large turnout.
“I think (the reason for the turnout) is the period in our nation’s history with all that’s going on: our economy, the wars that we’re fighting, the unemployment as a result of the economic downturn — all the things people are dealing with now, have gotten them to refocus on who they are and what they’re about,” she said.
Five years ago, in 2007, event participants focused on gratitude for Tyler’s past, present and future.
At that time, Tyler businessman and philanthropist Herb Buie recounted Tyler’s history of the 1920 peach crop failure that led to area rose growing and the annual Rose Festival. He touched on the 1927 start of Tyler Junior College, the oil field days of the 1930s and the 1971 creation of Tyler State College destined to become The University of Texas at Tyler.
“We stand today on the shoulders of giants,” Buie said. “So many beautiful things have happened in our city.”
More than 20 years ago, Margaret Loftis created the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Tyler. Ms. Loftis died last year; this will be the first prayer breakfast she won’t attend.
“She was one of Tyler’s prayer warriors and made sure this event happened every year,” event organizer Deborah Isham said.
At this year’s event, David Berryhill will lead worship. Prayers will focus on local and community government, state and federal government, nonprofits and education and the medical and business community. Corporate prayer will focus on families, military and the upcoming elections, Ms. Isham said.
Churches around the area will provide the meal. The doors open at 6:30 a.m. and the event begins at 7 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.