Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Mayor espouses diversity at annual prayer breakfast

Keynote speaker says some leaders ‘mocking God through their legislatio­n’


Mayor Charlie Clark held with tradition and attended the annual Saskatoon Prayer Breakfast Saturday at Prairielan­d Park.

It was his first as Saskatoon’s mayor, since he was elected last fall.

Formerly the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, it was renamed four years ago following controvers­ies over mixing politics and religion.

Former mayor Don Atchison faithfully attended the annual event while in office, and was in attendance Saturday, joining a crowd of about 500. It included several MPs, MLAs, and municipal mayors and councillor­s. During the morning’s program, prayers were said for elected leaders at the federal, provincial and civic levels, along with firefighte­rs and police.

In his brief remarks, Clark said the name change “makes sense.”

“This is not just about one member of the community, it’s about the whole community to have a prayer breakfast, and for the whole community to come together,” he said.

In a light-hearted moment he wondered aloud about the origins of addressing the mayor as Your Worship,” saying rather than being worshipped the mayor needs to be a “servant-leader” in the community “and make sure we stay connected to the community as a whole.”

Clark spoke about the city’s “strategic priority area” that is assigned to him – reconcilia­tion, inclusion and diversity.

He quoted a Bible passage that he found relevant, which spoke of each body part having its own unique and important function.

Noting the growing diversity of the city, province and country, Clark said “now is our time to reach out across our faith background­s, across our age background­s, across our background­s in ability, across our cultural background­s to figure out how we build a strong community, a strong body together.”

He added “there are forces working against us in different ways that we need to make sure that we’re attending to.”

On a more hopeful note, he pointed to bridges being built by people of different faiths. However, the focus of the prayer breakfast remained distinctly Christian.

Keynote speaker, Jason Caldwell, described how he drew on the key tenets of Christiani­ty to cope with the deaths of his twin 17-year-old sons in a horrific sledding accident last year at Calgary’s Olympic Park.

At one point, Caldwell veered into current political debate over the federal government’s promised legalizati­on of marijuana.

He spoke of many national leaders “mocking God through their legislatio­n and lifting the restraints of evil that keep order in our land.”

Comparing marijuana to undesirabl­e weeds, Caldwell asked “what are millions of new marijuana seeds going to reap in this nation?”

He went on to argue “only Jesus Christ provides the pattern and the power for Godly leadership with the correct focus,” drawing responses of “amen” and a standing ovation from some in the crowd.

 ?? NEIS KAYLE ?? Mayor Charlie Clark gives a speech during the opening ceremonies at the annual Prayer Breakfast held at Prairielan­d Park on Saturday.
NEIS KAYLE Mayor Charlie Clark gives a speech during the opening ceremonies at the annual Prayer Breakfast held at Prairielan­d Park on Saturday.

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