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Large online gathering prays for new leaders, church, nation and world

Dozens of Christian faith leaders join voices and hearts to pray during an unsettling time

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — Dozens of Christian faith leaders gathered online Tuesday to pray for the incoming administration and 117th Congress, for churches, and for the nation and the world.

Thousands of people prayed alongside them during Faith 2020’s Faith with Justice prayer service. View the service here.

During the first segment, faith leaders prayed for the incoming president, Joe Biden; the new vice president, Kamala Harris; and the new slate of elected officials. “Wherever they serve, O God, may they be attuned to the cries of the poor,” said the Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “May elected leaders never fail to listen and speak truth to power.”

The Rev. Frederick A. Davie, Executive Vice President at Union Theological Seminary, asked God to give all those who hold office “the courage to look deeply at economic disparities” so they’ll “take seriously how economic hardship erodes the soul.”

the Rev. Traci Blackmon

The Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister for the United Church of Christ, prayed “for those elected to serve in offices … that they may look low and look eye-to-eye with those who are hurting in this nation.” The people they serve “are shaped in your image and filled with your breath.” Blackmon asked God to keep the ear of those elected “close to your heart.”

the Rev. Walter Kim

“We recognize that hope is the companion of humility,” said the Rev. Dr. Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. “We pray not in despair, but in humility, confronting the limits of our wisdom. We ask our leaders to join together in this great task to adequately lead this nation.”

“Teach us to love, unselfishly and sacrificially. Teach our leaders to lead by love, and teach us to follow in love,” said the Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. “Grant us your liberating, loving and life-giving spirit.”

The Rev. Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, asked God to “let the light of your wisdom birthed by the midwives of humility and compassion shine on every elected official. Forgive us our civic dementia,” the times we “forget about the failures of yesterday.”

The service then shifted to prayers for the church.

the Rev. Jennifer Butler

The Rev. Jennifer Butler, a Presbyterian and the chief executive officer of Faith and Public Life, gave thanks for “spiritual ancestors and those who come after we’re gone.” God has “given us the truth, that Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord. What might your church become when our brokenness is revealed? We must seize this moment, this calm in the eye of the storm, to pour out all we have for the sake of your truth and for the world.”

Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne with Red Letter Christians prayed that “as your church we would be your prophetic conscience — not the chaplains of empire, but the prophets of resistance.” He asked the Almighty to “help us imagine a world where Black lives matter, a world where we study war no more, a nation where the first are last and the last are first. Help us imagine America as you want it to be.”

During the final segment, faith leaders prayed for the nation and the world.

Sister Simone Campbell

Sister Simone Campbell, an activist and lawyer who organized the Nuns on the Bus tour in 2012, asked God to “bring forth a new vision that speaks truth and that welcomes the stranger, even if they disagree with us.” She prayed that legislation be passed “that actually works for the common good. Let us be inclusive in ourselves, our nation, our policies — and most of all, in our care. Make us open to the fulness of all your work in our midst. We trust in you. We live in you and we will move forward in this new creation.”

Nikki Toyama-Szeto, executive director of Christians for Social Action, prayed to “the One who can shake off and break up oppressive systems. You are just, you are able, you are compass and you are kind.”

the Rev. Cecilia Williams

The Rev. Cecilia Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Christian Community Development Association, told God, “We trust with deep conviction you have heard the pleas and petitions of your children tonight … Grant us, O God, the resolve to confront truthfully the dark history of this nation, which has not as yet been reconciled, and a holy unwellness to settle for pseudo peace, a peace that’s divorced from justice.

“We are thankful for all the words that have been spoken,” Williams said. “Now we step back and ask you to speak. Speak, O Lord, for your servants are listening.”

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