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ST. GEORGE — Interfaith ministers and preachers welcomed in the new year with words of prayer Saturday afternoon in the St. George Tabernacle.
The 18th annual interfaith Prayer Over the City event brought together many different faiths as citizens came out of the fog and filled the Tabernacle almost three-quarters full.
St. George Mayor Michele Randall spoke at the event and three members of the city council were also in attendance. She called it, “The most important event that happens in our city.”
“We want to thank the Interfaith Council,” Randall said. “They’ve been doing this for 18 years. They come to each of our city council meetings and offer a word of prayer before we start. We appreciate that, because we do need to call on a higher power to help us all with the jobs we’re doing and in our daily lives.”
The yearly event invites ministers, preachers and faith leaders in Washington County to offer two-minute prayers that bless the city of St. George, its citizens and its servants as the new year arrives.
Chaplain Brent Black (lower right, at pulpit) speaks at the Prayer Over the City event, St. George, Utah, Dec. 31, 2022 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
The diverse religious, cultural and spiritual perspectives in the prayers were all unified by notions of respect for one another; community, hope and unity.
A highlight of the event came when leaders recognized the commitment and dedication displayed by longtime Interfaith Choir director John Ribera.
“As a conductor I just wave my hands in the air and there’s magic that happens,” Ribera told the crowd. “What you heard came from the musicians, and came from their heart.”
New director Kathy Brown conducted the Interfaith Choir in singing the songs “Soon” and “Look to the Day.”
Captain Brent Black is an Army National Guard Chaplain. His prayer was dedicated to servicemen and women.
“We are mindful and grateful for those who have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy,” Black said. “We are proud of their service. May they be blessed and compensated with grace for their service and time away from loved ones.”
Sustainability was a topic discussed by a couple of different speakers, including Michael Kruse from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
“Our predecessors have laughed and cried, lived and died here, sustainably, for 10,000 years,” he said. “So I bring to you the Native American wisdom, and a blessing, and a prayer.”
Pastor Joyce DeToni-Hill from Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church offered her prayer to an abundant and sustaining God.
Interfaith Choir director Kathy Brown at the Prayer Over the City event, St. George, Utah, Dec. 31, 2022 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
“We live in such a beautiful area,” she said. “We give you thanks for the fruitful earth which produces what is needed for life. Bless those who work in the fields in and around our community. Grant favorable weather to all those engaged in agriculture.”
Linda Van Wert represented the Buddhist community with her prayer about our pets and animal friends.
“I would like to include the animals, also, in today’s meditation on connection,” she said. “No matter whether it be our companions, wildlife, or livestock, they all depend on us and deserve care and consideration.”
That was just a small sampling of the many prayers that were offered.
Besides those quoted in the story above, here’s a list of those who prayed at the Interfaith Council Prayer Over the City:
Reverend Jimi Kestin from Solomon’s Porch, Tim Martin from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reverend Buddy Herrington from the Shepherd of the Hills Methodist Church, Reverend Dr. Ralph Clingan from the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, Carole Drake from the St. George Catholic Church, Rabbi Helene Ainbinder of the Beit Chaverim Jewish Community of Greater Zion, Reverend Rickine Kestin of Solomon’s Porch, Father Tristan Dillon from the St. George Catholic Church, Shadman Bashir, leader of the local Muslim community, Sharon Shores, member of the Interfaith council, Laura Fairchild of the Baha’i Community, Michelle King from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reverend Uriah Hernalsteen of Solomon’s Porch and Reverend Alex Wilke of New Life Christian Center.
UTAH COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO FOURSQUARE CHURCH'S LOVE
Founded in 2005, Solomon’s Porch Foursquare Fellowship (St. George Central Foursquare Church) has woven itself into the fabric of its community in St. George, Utah, which has a higher percentage Latter-Day Saints (LDS) population than Salt Lake City, the state capital. The way they have impacted St. George demonstrates very well Foursquare's missional objective of church and community transformation.