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'Be A Neighbor' initiative launched at Governor's Prayer Breakfast

Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the  Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]
Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

Gov. Kevin Stitt and his wife Sarah imagined an event that would bring together Southern Baptist preachers and Jewish rabbis, Roman Catholic bishops and Latter-day Saints, Methodist ministers and Muslim imams to ask God to guide and bless Oklahoma.

Tuesday, the Stitts saw their vision come to fruition with the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast.

An estimated 1,200 people filled the National Cowboy Hall and Western Heritage Museum for the faith effort facilitated by a nonprofit called Oklahoma Capitol Culture. The event also was simulcast around the state to more than 40 sites in cities like Enid, Claremore, Tulsa, Edmond, Altus and McLoud so that other prayerful Oklahomans could join in the effort.

"We believe prayer moves the heart of God. We believe everything starts with prayer," the governor said in his welcoming remarks.

"We think God is doing something special in Oklahoma."

His wife agreed.

She said the crowd was "an answer to prayer."

"Over the last couple of years, I have seen miracle after miracle happen when people go to their knees and pray for their family, their communities, for their state, for their schools. It is encouraging to see this room packed and full of people that feel the same way. It is encouraging to know that the people of our state are rallying to pray for our state," Sarah Stitt said.

Prayer plus action

The breakfast had a two-fold purpose. It was a prayer gathering — arguably one of the state's largest and most inclusive in terms of faith traditions, Christian denominations, race, age and background.

It also served as a fitting backdrop for the Stitts to unveil a new state initiative called "Be A Neighbor."

The initiative's website, BeANeighbor.org, was launched Tuesday, encouraging Oklahoma faith-based groups, nonprofits and community organizations to help in three areas of focus:

• Aiding youths aging out of foster care

• Reducing high school drop-out rates

• Reducing recidivism

"As I traveled the state through the campaign and this first year in office, I realize that government can't do this by ourselves. We cannot solve some of these social issues. So the pastors, the churches, the nonprofits, they all want to be engaged and they said 'Put us in, coach. I want to get involved. What are our issues?' That's where this idea 'Be A Neighbor' was launched," the governor said.

The website includes information on all 77 counties so people who want to help may easily find a neighbor in need.

"When we break our issues down to 77 smaller issues, it's so much easier to get our arms around that and it takes a neighbor walking beside someone to fix these issues," Stitt said. "Wherever you live, you can click on that website and you can see how to get involved."

'The effectual fervent prayer ...'

The Rev. Joel Harder, president of Oklahoma Capitol Culture, said the goal of the prayer breakfast was to launch a statewide movement of prayer.

"Prayer is one human endeavor that is common to all of us," he said.

An inspirational video "call to prayer" showed Oklahomans of different Christian denominations and other faith traditions discussing the topic of prayer.

Guests were invited to pray for Oklahoma in specific areas. The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, led the prayer for Oklahoma's congressional delegation, while the Rev. Philip Abode, pastor of Crossover bible Church in Tulsa, led a prayer for the state House of Representatives. The Rev. Jessica Moffatt with First United Methodist Church of Tulsa led a prayer for the state Senate and the Rev. Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists, led prayer for Stitt and his administration.

Video vignettes featuring the personal faith testimonies of several Oklahomans were shown throughout the course of the breakfast, with the crowd encouraged to pray for the issues that the videos highlighted like education, foster children and people reentering society after incarceration.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, introduced keynote speaker Admiral Barry C. Black, 62nd chaplain to the U.S. Senate, as "an anchor in the Senate for almost two decades" and a "gift to the nation."

Black urged the crowd to pray and do it with fervor.

On the Web

A new state initiative "Be A Neighbor" was launched on Tuesday. The Department of Human Services said the initiative's website, BeANeighbor.org, is designed as a one-stop-shop for Oklahomans to find help or to discover ways to give or volunteer. A DHS news release said the initiative was created in partnership with 2-1-1 and Count Me In 4 Kids as an easy-to-navigate library of resources.

"At OKDHS, we see first-hand every day the impact of communities stepping forward to support their neighbors," Justin Brown, DHS director, said in the news release. "BeANeighbor.org brings human services to the local level, allowing community organizations, faith-based groups and nonprofits to work shoulder-to-shoulder with OKDHS to meet the needs of the individuals and families we serve together. Hope is rising in Oklahoma as this initiative allows Oklahomans to help other Oklahomans achieve independence and create better futures."

Related Photos
<strong>Sherri Boyd bows her head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Sherri Boyd bows her head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e014e1e8fec305b36a5c7b66882956f5.jpg" alt="Photo - Sherri Boyd bows her head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Sherri Boyd bows her head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Sherri Boyd bows her head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-edb264d29d873a9c2eacad3d8fe8bbff.jpg" alt="Photo - U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e5bbf8ca1543b93491fb8f635787545d.jpg" alt="Photo - The Rev. Tim Turner bows his head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" The Rev. Tim Turner bows his head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> The Rev. Tim Turner bows his head in prayer during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-92d21dd9f0c78e30483864e9fec8ac60.jpg" alt="Photo - Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tueday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tueday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tueday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-af38d2a94178c506a6bff260e72c67c9.jpg" alt="Photo - Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ea2beb8991492d5f73dce863457b8407.jpg" alt="Photo - Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplin to the U.S. Senate, speaks during the Oklahoma Governor's Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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