Randolph County Commission meetings will no longer open with a moment of silent meditation - instead, they'll commence with the recitation of a standard prayer.
At the request of several area residents-namely, pastor Mike House and the Rev. Stephen Pyle - the commission considered and approved a request to open each commission meeting with a prayer at Thursday's regular meeting.
Commission President Chris See announced that after several weeks of contemplation, the commission had finally come to a conclusion about the course it would take.
"We wanted to do some research before we jumped into any hasty decision," See said. "We have put together this prayer that will hopefully keep us out of trouble and make everyone happy." See said commissioners would take turns reading it at the outset of each meeting.
See then recited the prayer, which reads, "Father God...You know why we are here...You know the hearts of all men and women. Remind us today of the urgency of being prepared to serve our fellow human beings in the time of need. Help us, as helping agents, always to be available to the collective, as well as the individual needs of others in times of emergency and when people are in stressful and hurting situations.
"Give us an understanding of the reasons why we exist and serve. We affirm today, O'Lord, that a better community and a better Randolph County and a better America begins with us. Bless now this gathering and may God bless Randolph County and God bless America."
Pyle, who was present at Thursday's meeting, questioned why the commission had omitted the name of Jesus Christ from the prayer.
"In my faith, we always say, 'in the name of Jesus Christ,'" Pyle told commissioners. "He said He's the truth and the way and the life. At the name of Jesus is where the power is. This says 'Father God,' but I really believe we ought to honor His Son as well. That is my inference and my feeling on this."
Commissioner Mike Taylor told Pyle that the commission was trying to accommodate his request without offending people of other faiths.
"We are trying to keep it generic and being careful not to offend any other religions," Taylor said. "Our job is not to promote one religion over another. That's not the role of county government, but we have agreed to say a prayer, and that's the prayer it's going to be.
"I respect your opinion and we could fill the room with everyone who has a different view," Taylor added.
Taylor also stressed that the commissioners - not ministers, pastors or priests - would take turns saying the prayer.
"I guess a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," Pyle replied.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.