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Prayer breakfast to honor ministers

April 19th, 2014 7:54 pm by Matthew Lane

Prayer breakfast to honor  ministers

KINGSPORT — Mayor Dennis Phillips is inviting the public to attend an annual prayer breakfast on May 1 to thank the many outstanding ministers who serve the residents of the Greater Kingsport area every single day.

The Mayor's Prayer Breakfast will be held at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium on May 1 in conjunction with the 63nd annual observance of the National Day of Prayer.

"The primary theme is to honor the ministers who serve the city ... who do an outstanding job on a daily basis," Phillips said. "We're not going to have any ministers work or participate. I want them all to come and enjoy it without the pressure of having to do anything and let us say thank you for what you do everyday for the citizens of this city."

The event is free to the public, but those wishing to eat should purchase the $6.50 ticket at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce (400 Clinchfield St.) or at the door on the day of the event. Senior ministers will receive a free breakfast as a guest of the mayor.

Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. with music from The Potters, an old-time gospel group. The program begins at 8 a.m. and will include prayers for the city, state and nation, the local business community, elected officials and the education community. Between prayers, The Potters will continue with hymns and city employees and community leaders will engage in scripture readings.

In previous years the mayor's prayer breakfast has been well attended, topping more than 600 in the past couple of years. Phillips said he believes at least 400 people will show up this year.

The Mayor's Prayer Breakfast has been held in Kingsport for more than a decade and Phillips has attended since being elected in 2005. The National Day of Prayer began in 1952 and is a day designated by the United States Congress when people are asked "to turn to God in prayer and meditation."

Last year, the event drew some criticism from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., which sent a letter to Phillips urging him to immediately stop using city resources and taxpayer funds to plan, organize and promote the prayer breakfast. The foundation called Phillips' participation in the annual event a serious constitutional concern.

Phillips, a member of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Kingsport, said he disagrees, noting no one is required to attend the prayer breakfast and no city funds are spent on the event.

"I think Christians have just as much right as anyone else and part of that is, one day a year set aside for the National Day of Prayer and as mayor I'm proud Kingsport observes it," Phillips said. "I don't think my taking one day a year to do this is the greatest sin I could commit."

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