GARY | The themes of faith in God and being a good leader intertwined Wednesday at the Mayor’s Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Genesis Convention Center.
More than 75 representatives of faith-based organizations and public officials attended the breakfast hosted by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s office and the Gary Area Lutheran Association. The breakfast was sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.
Freeman-Wilson and keynote speaker the Most Rev. Dale Melczek, bishop of the Diocese of Gary, talked about the New Jerusalem, a city built on faith, and called for a revival of Gary spiritually, economically and educationally.
“There are some who get a little nervous when we talk about God, prayer and government. They pull out their Constitutions and their Bill of Rights,” the mayor said.
“But let me put on my lawyer hat. The First Amendment says that government cannot establish religion. That’s distinct from no God in government,” Freeman-Wilson said. “Let me go further and say if leaders don’t have God in their lives, you should be concerned.”
The mayor called on those who are entrusted to serve as leaders to work together.
“There is more that unites us than divides us,” she said. “We all have one mission — to make this earth better than we found it. That needs to work in government, work in corporate America, work in the educational arena."
Melczek told those gathered that while there is a separation of church and state in America, religion is “vital to the nation’s survival.”
“Religion helps form virtuous citizens and only virtuous citizens can maintain the delicate balance (of the American way of life),” he said.
Over the last few decades, “the American soul that has a Christian subtext has been weakened,” Melczek said.
Practicing religious tenets develops social conscience and leads people to help others, he said, adding that those efforts include volunteering time, joining civic organizations and participating to solve problems.
“We must be dreamers and work to affect those dreams,” Melczek said. “Our faith is an enormous gift of God’s love to us. May it be an enormous blessing to others.”