By Barbara Shoun
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon knows that Missourians pray for him and says that it gives him strength to make the difficult decisions he has to make.
“As I travel the state and see people, they come up and say, ‘I’m praying for you,’ he said following a dedication service for Missouri government leaders Jan. 6 at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City.
Nixon said he sees the prayers as a means of combined strength from people of faith. “I know I’m not alone,” he said.
Nixon is the first Democratic governor to attend the dedication service, the annual event having been started during a Republican governorship. His executive branch was one of several groups who were prayed for by those in attendance.
David Tolliver, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), gave the charge to government leaders that preceded the prayers of dedication.
He called the Show-Me State “the best part of the United States” and discussed four topics of concern to Missouri Christians:
Freedom – “Freedom is something Christians especially understand. Not every Missouri person is free, because you cannot experience genuine and lasting freedom unless you experience Jesus Christ in your heart.”
Faithfulness – Tolliver quoted statistics saying that 70 percent of mainstream Protestant ministers are skeptical of the existence of God, but it is only as people put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ that they are the people of God.
Position – “The United States is not a world power and world leader because it is smarter than all the nations of the world, but it is a great nation because, across the years, it has been a good nation,” he said.
Problems – Tolliver noted that while Americans don’t agree on all the issues, there are some to agree on, such as economic struggles, unspeakable crime and violence, and pornography. “Many of our problems can be traced back to rejection of God and His Word,” he said.
Tolliver expressed appreciation to Gov. Nixon for his support of some MBC programs. “I am grateful for a state government and a governor willing to work with faith groups,” he said.
“Governor, you visited our disaster relief sites. We are grateful for your partnership.”
Speaking to all the elected officials present, Tolliver told them, “We live in the greatest nation and the greatest state in this nation. God, in His sovereignty, has given you the responsibility for the welfare of this state.
“As Christians in America, you and I have the opportunity to experience full and lasting happiness. Jesus Christ has made it possible.
“You set the stage. You pass the laws. You provide for the welfare of this state. We pray for you; it’s our commitment to you. You have our continued prayers.”
Tolliver’s charge was followed by prayer for four different groups of public servants, their families, and their staffs.
Bob Loggins, MBC prayer and spiritual awakening specialist, offered the prayer for the executive branch. He prayed especially that the governor, when making difficult decisions, would have his heart in the place of prayer, “with bended knee and bowed down head, You would use him.”
Pam Bultmann, director of education, Concord Baptist Church, led the prayer for the judicial branch. Four of Missouri’s seven Supreme Court justices were in attendance at the event.
Jerry Field, MBC associate executive director, prayed over the state senators in attendance, and Gary Taylor, MBC evangelism director, offered prayer for those attending from the House of Representatives.
Michael Knight, pastor, First Baptist Church, Viburnum, gave the welcome and served as master of ceremonies. Host Pastor Monte Shinkle gave the opening prayer. Both men are also members of the MBC Executive Board.
The Marine Corps League Color Guard presented the colors.
Music was provided by Justin Nelson, worship pastor of South Creek Church, Springfield, and a member of the MBC Executive Board, and by Mark Meyers and Debbie Poire, Concord Baptist Church worship pastor and accompanist, respectively.
The dedication service was jointly sponsored by the MBC‘s Christian Life Commission, The Pathway, and Concord Baptist Church.