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A Prayer Gathering

Author: Jim McGovern

Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There didn’t seem to be any press around for this one. No TV vans outside, no one being interviewed…I guess we’ve seen enough of Mayor Kenney this week. So the January 6 Interfaith Inaugural Prayer Gathering presented by the Religious Leaders Council of Philadelphia went on without a lot of fanfare. Mayor Kenney appeared to know his audience and his message was one of mercy and redemption – reducing our prison population and opening our arms to the refugees were the two items he specifically spoke about. The mayor even recounted the story of the Prodigal Son and related it to our ex-offenders being released from jail.  Like the father welcoming his wayward son, we should provide assistance, training and work for our returning offenders. The mayor really did a good job of keeping his comments brief and meaningful…and then he shook hands with near all of the 200 or so people who were there. He appears to be very approachable…and is he Irish-looking!

The readings and commentary by people of all different faiths were pertinent and positive. The Matthew 25 reading ‘what you did for the least of me, you also did for me’ they even put on the screen so we could all share citing it.

The Salvation Army brass band were very tight and very good…they sounded nothing like the off-key  squadrons we see in the background of Christmas movies. They were also very interested in participating in the May 1 annual Interfaith Peace Walk that we’ve been having for 13 years now.

More significant than all the words uttered however, is something Kenney DID in his first day of office. He fulfilled his promise and signed an Executive Order stopping all collaboration between Philadelphia Police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A ‘least of me’ population being looked after for sure.

I have to admit I was really moved by our new mayor and how progressive seems his agenda. (Makes me think maybe Barry Sanders might even have a chance!) He mentioned how a long time ago we Irish were the unwanted immigrants – even to the extent that several Catholic/Irish churches were burned to the ground. All three eventually were rebuilt. The faith, fortitude, work, sweat and prayer of the people made it happen.

Alas For sure the sparkle and shine of NEW, is, by definition, a happy and resurrect-ing time.  But as he  faces the mountainous struggles, financial, criminal and otherwise, may all of us stand by our new mayor…and do what we can to help. The great city of Philadelphia got a nice dose of even national exposure about a month back when we were there for our Muslim brethren after a hateful act of vandalism. Let’s keep the headlines more about what we do for each other…and not what we do to…

Check out this video of the prayer gathering, posted by The Salvation Army.

Jim is a local writer. He may be reached at batesius33-at-gmail-dot-com or He recently had a book published called “Inclusion” available on Amazon Books.

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