Let me begin by once again thanking the House of Representatives for the opportunity to be present on Wednesday as the Chaplain for the Day. Overall, I felt honored to be there and enjoyed the experience. Many members of both political parties went out of their way to welcome me and express words of appreciation for my prayer. The Speaker and the Speaker Pro-Tem extended hospitality and exhibited grace.
It was not my desire to politicize a prayer. I live and work in Rep. McAffrey’s district and consider him to be a good friend. He invited me the same as he would invite other clergypersons in his district. He encouraged me to invite my congregation, family, and friends. We were fully aware of the historic nature of the event.
I took my pastoral and ceremonial duties responsibly and abided by the guidelines sent to me by the House of Representatives. Wednesday morning I arrived early. Rep. McAffrey took me to the chamber, where he and the ushers walked me through the proper protocol.
Rep. McAffrey had informed me that it was standard practice to acknowledge guests, but that I must first ask permission of the Speaker. When I was called upon to deliver the prayer, I followed the protocol, by stepping to the rostrum, turning to shake the Speaker’s hand and asking his permission to acknowledge guests from my congregation and family who were in the gallery. The Speaker gave me permission. I then proceeded with my written remarks.
After my prayer I remained throughout the day’s session. It was hours later when Rep. McAffrey made what I understood to be a routine motion asking for the prayer to become part of the record, when one member of the legislature objected. I had momentarily stepped out of the chamber in order to visit the water closet. When I re-entered the chamber, I was informed that they were voting on my prayer.
It is unfortunate that some members felt the need to politicize a routine, ceremonial function. It is unfortunate that they chose to politicize a heartfelt and sincere prayer from someone who was born, raised, baptized, educated, and ordained in the state of Oklahoma.
I hope that my prayer for peace and unity will be heard.
Finally, thank you the United Church of Christ for their demonstration of support today.