Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Prayers Of Different Faiths 'strengthen Our Community'

Led by director Meghan Becker, right, Mater Dei High School students Maddie Goebel, left, Natalie Lyons, Julia Knight and Kristen Schneider sing the Israeli folk song

Although much was different (from past years) during Evansville’s May 4 Interfaith observance of the National Day of Prayer, one critical element remained unchanged. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke talked about it as he addressed attendees and participants.


“We give thanks when we pray, and we ask for blessings,” the mayor said. “But we also must listen, and be open to the Divine guidance we seek. Let us hear and amplify the prayers of the different faiths that strengthen our community.”


He then read a proclamation that said, in part, “Whereas, the National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans and transcends our differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds; and Whereas, it is fitting that we focus on the need for healing and reconciliation within our community and our nation; then be it resolved that I, Lloyd Winnecke, Mayor of the City of Evansville, do hereby proclaim May 4, 2017, as National Day of Prayer in the City of Evansville, Indiana.”


For the first time in the long history of Evansville’s Interfaith observance, the event moved inside due to the heavy rains that have plagued Southwest Indiana during the early days of May. Trinity United Methodist Church, only three blocks from the Four Freedoms Monument, the traditional site of the observance, graciously agreed to host the 2017 event.


It began with a musical prelude by James Hamler Jr., and friends. Hamler is Music Minister at Evansville’s Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church. Singers from Mater Dei High School followed with an a capella version of “Hine Ma Tov,” an Israeli folk song; and Mater Dei student Emily Lyons led the singing of the National Anthem.


Bishop Charles C. Thompson welcomed everyone and introduced Mayor Winnecke. Following his proclamation, more than a dozen representatives of area faith traditions offered prayers that focused on the national theme for this year’s Day of Prayer – forgiveness and healing.


Those offering prayers included:

  • Evansville Fire Department Chaplains Tony Payne and Ken Olson, and Evansville Police Officer Phillip Smith; on behalf of their agencies, Chaplain Payne offered a prayer for all first responders, and for all men and women military personnel

  • Rabbi Gary Mazo, Temple Adath B’Nai Israel

  • Rev. Dr. Todd A. Gile, Trinity United Methodist Church, Evansville

  • Dr. Mohammad Hussain, Evansville Area Islamic Society

  • Mr. Steven Jed Stanfill, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

  • Rev. Veltri Taylor, of First Ebenezer Baptist Church, Evansville

  • Mr. Tom Moor, Unitarian Universalist Church

  • Mr. John Paulson, from the Buddhist tradition

  • Rev. Michael Erwin, Christ Church United Church of Christ, Evansville

  • Mr. Abraham Brown, representing the Latino community

  • Rev. Surendra Mishra, Tri-State Hindu Society

  • Bishop Thompson, who concluded – joined by all of the participants – with intercessory prayers for forgiveness, healing and religious freedom. At the bishop’s request, all in attendance responded in Spanish, “Señor ten piedad” (Lord have mercy)

The Mater Dei singers then led everyone in singing “Amazing Grace.”