Prayer a tradition at public meetings, events in N. AL - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Prayer a tradition at public meetings, events in N. AL

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Opening the Madison County Commission meeting with prayer is a relatively new tradition. Opening the Madison County Commission meeting with prayer is a relatively new tradition.
MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

As controversy swirls about the Alabama Public Service Commission and Cullman County Schools over unrelated incidents involving prayer, some officials are saying it is a tradition for many organizations in the South to begin meetings and other big events with prayer.

It's a relatively new tradition at the Madison County Commission meeting. Up until a year ago, the meeting started with a moment of silence. When Chairman Dale Strong took over, a prayer was instituted.

"It has gone great to this point. I believe the commission has taken a good stand. We are not pushing one or the other faith before anybody," said Chairman Strong.

Commissioners have asked leaders of all different faiths to offer the opening prayer. They typically pray for the commission and the community.

Wednesday's commission meeting was the first time Reverend Andy Anderson with Church of the Nativity Episcopal, presented the prayer.

"When I pray in a public place, I don't pray in the name of Christ, although my prayers are implicitly Christian. I don't particularly pray in the name of God, but I do include those ideals and those hopes of our Christian faith that I believe all people can unite and relate to," said Rev. Anderson.

Anderson wants to make his prayer as accessible and inclusive to everyone as much as possible, even those who don't identify with a particular faith.

"I try to use key elements of our Christian faith that have a common theme of peace, justice, and hope in the world that all people can connect to," explained Rev. Anderson.

As a man of faith, Reverend Anderson is in favor of public prayer, but he understands it's not something everyone agrees with.

"I think their voice is important for people of faith to hear because we can sometimes be oppressive and exclusive," said Anderson.

So far, there have been no objections to the prayer. It's a tradition commissioners hope to continue.

"Beginning a county commission meeting with prayer for those who are participating and making decisions, and even the people who live in this county, I could think of no better way to start our morning," said Strong.

Officials said participating in the prayer is completely voluntary.

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