Historic prayer service honors lawmakers
Believers reminded to be ‘salt, light’
January 14, 2005
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY – The Commissioning Prayer Service for the 93rd Missouri General Assembly Jan. 5 at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, was a success for several reasons, representatives from the Missouri Baptist Convention’s three sponsoring entities said.
Don Hinkle, editor, The Pathway, Rodney Albert, chairman, MBC Christian Life Commission, and Monte Shinkle, host pastor, all said that they were blessed by the presence of Missouri’s new governor, Matt Blunt, several state senators and representatives and various other dignitaries. Many prayers were answered when God kept the temperature warm enough to prevent freezing rain for the first-time event.
“I was very pleased with the turnout on such a nasty morning, for a start of something,” Shinkle said. “I was especially pleased to see five members of our Supreme Court here.”
Shinkle got to pray for those five judges – Michael Wolff, Laura Denvir Stith, William Ray Price, Richard Teitelman and Mary Rhodes Russell – as well as Stephen Limbaugh and Chief Justice Ronnie White.
“Give them wisdom, Lord, to interpret the law of our land, and give them insight to know that they are not to make the law of our land,” Shinkle prayed.
Shinkle also had the honor of praying for the executive branch of state government. Blunt, who was seated on the front pew, stood as the longtime Jefferson City pastor prayed for him and his administration.
“Thank you, Father, that You have Your hand on Matt Blunt,” Shinkle prayed. “I pray, Father, as he feels the weight of responsibility that presses upon him that he will also feel the weight of Your holy, blessed hand.”
Blunt was moved by the event.
“I just want to thank everybody who put this together,” the governor-elect said, making his way up the center aisle of the church just five days before his inauguration. “As you approach great endeavors, it’s important to begin with prayer and reflection. I’m glad that this was done as we begin the legislative session.”
Jay Scribner, pastor, First Baptist Church, Branson, gave the charge to the General Assembly. He is close to the extended Blunt family, as Matt’s father, Roy, a U.S. Congressman, is a member of First Branson. Scribner said that Matt Blunt told him what he would do with the Holman Christian Standard Bible that the MBC presented to him and all 197 lawmakers.
“He appreciated getting this Bible, although he was quick to say, ‘I’m not sure I want to quit reading the one that I read every day,’” Scribner said. “He said he will use his Bible to be sworn in, but he wanted this Missouri Baptist Convention Bible to have as a keepsake for his new son who’s going to be born in March.
“I think that little exchange probably gives us a little bit about his heart. God’s Word is close to him, and I think we’re going to see some very positive things come from this new administration.”
MBC Executive Director David Clippard served as master of ceremonies for the event, which included special presentations of framed paintings to elected officials. House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, and Senate Minority Floor Leader Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, both came forward to accept American flag prints by Missouri artist Jack Dawson, a member of First Baptist Church, Webb City. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, and Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, were unable to attend but will receive their framed prints later.
Clippard presented Blunt with a numbered oil reproduction of the painting, which encourages Christians to mend America through prayer. Second Chron. 7:14 is centered below each print.
Prayer was the theme of the service. MBC President Mitchell Jackson, pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston, followed Shinkle to the front to pray for the senators, their families and staff.
“Father, I pray most of all that you would give those leaders and members of the Senate wisdom to do the right thing—not to do the thing that might seem right to men, or special interest groups, but to know that the right thing is based on what the Word of God says,” Jackson prayed.
Albert, pastor, Hallsville Baptist Church, was charged with praying for members of the House of Representatives.
“Give them a passion for Your truth and Your glory,” he prayed, “that they would give their lives pursuing Your holy and true ways which alone will bring prosperity and happiness to our beloved Missouri. I entrust and commit these representatives to Your tender care, that they may serve You well this year, in the name of our Savior Jesus, our Gracious Servant and Sovereign King.”
MBC Worship Specialist Bill Shiflett led participants in two patriotic songs—The National Anthem after the presentation of colors and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the end. The crisply run program lasted 40 minutes.
“When you get that genuine care, it makes our service easier,” said Rep. Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City and a deacon at First Baptist Church, Kimberling City. “It’s an individual care that was expressed here today.”
This marked the second major event where Missouri Baptists presented gifts to lawmakers. Last year, two Missouri Baptist churches provided lawmakers with tickets for a special private preview of Mel Gibson’s hit movie “The Passion of the Christ.” Organizers are leaning toward making the Commissioning Prayer Service an annual event, Albert said.
“This was not a time for politics, but for acknowledging that it is Jehovah God who places people in seats of authority and it is He who has ordained government to punish and restrict evil-doers and to reward and protect moral behavior,” Hinkle said. “It also gave Missouri Southern Baptists the opportunity to express our love and gratitude to all of those willing to give of themselves through public service and it was a reminder to all believers that we are commanded by our King Jesus to be actively engaged in the world by being the preserving ‘salt’ of the earth and the illuminating ‘light’ of the world.”