The public prayers were written by local church leaders Lee Shafer, of Grace Episcopal Church in Anniston, and Chris Thomas, pastor at Anniston’s Fairview Heights Northside Baptist Church. They mentioned a variety of community groups.
Representatives of each of those groups — teachers, children, elderly, volunteers, public safety officials — took part in reading their specific prayers.
For example, a colonel from the Anniston Army Depot read the prayer for the military, someone from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office prayed for law enforcement officials and local teachers prayed for children.
Here, we reprint the prayer for those who were unable to attend the breakfast.
A prayer for children
God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure or their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and keep alive their joy in your creation.
Lord, we ask your blessings on our children and their schools.
— Denise Parker, Anniston City Schools, and Gena Vinyard, Oxford City Schools.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good.
Lord, we ask you to bless all parents that they may be good role models.
— Don Walton, Family Service Center.
For the elderly
Look with mercy, O God our Father, on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress or isolation. Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give them understanding helpers, and the willingness to accept help; and as their strength diminishes, increase their faith and their assurance of your love.
Lord, we ask your blessings on the elderly and those who care for them.
— Angela McLaughlin Haynes, Meals on Wheels.
Eternal God, grant to those who give of themselves to others your gifts of encouragement, grace and compassion. Give them open ears, kind hearts and outstretched arms, so that they might serve as your presence in the lives of those in need. May you bless them as they volunteer in our community, and may you use them to bless those they serve.
Lord, we ask your blessings on all who volunteer.
— Denise Rucker, Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
For the unemployed
Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor.
Lord, we ask your blessings on all who face financial hardship.
— Kim Johnson, All Saints Center of Concern.
For the poor
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and turn their sorrow to joy.
Lord, open our eyes to the needs of others.
— Aaron Creed and Richard Timmons, Interfaith Ministries volunteers.
For law enforcement
All-knowing God, we ask for your protection of our streets and those who work to make them safe. May our neighborhoods be free from crime and filled with the sounds of laughter and community. May we be diligent in seeking to do our part in keeping one another safe so that we all may live in peace.
Lord, we ask your blessing upon our community that it may be safe.
— Sgt. Marcus Wood, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department.
O God, you made us in your own image: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony.
Lord, we ask you to bless our community with interpersonal and interracial harmony.
— The Rev. Chuck Worley, Oxford First United Methodist Church.
For our armed services
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be.
Lord, we ask your blessings on those who are serving our country in the armed forces.
— Col. Bolander, Anniston Army Depot.
O God who created all people in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children.
Lord, we ask your blessings upon our diversity, make us love all your people and respect the dignity of every human being.
— Maudine Holloway, The Community Enabler Developer.
For public servants
Almighty God our heavenly Father, send down upon those who hold office in this country, in our state and in our region, the spirit of wisdom, charity and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people.
Lord, we ask your blessing upon our public servants that they may serve with integrity.
— Alice Martin, Probate Judge.
God of compassion, may you empower us, your people, to come together in unity to serve your people throughout our community.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
— The Rev. Lee Shafer, Grace Episcopal Church.