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Mesa Faith Leaders Come Together at National Day of Prayer Event

More than 250 attend live or online as various religions’ representatives teach about prayer and pray for their community, nation

Delynn Bodine, Mesa Faith Leaders’ Coalition chair, welcomes those in attendance at a National Day of Prayer event in Mesa, Arizona on May 2, 2024. Photo by Scott P. Adair, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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By Jill P. Adair, for the Church News

Coming together as members of a community, faith leaders took the opportunity on National Day of Prayer, May 2, to gather and pray together, inviting the public to join with them.

More than 250 attended live or online at the First Presbyterian Church of Mesa in Mesa, Arizona, to hear representatives from various religions speak on the importance and their belief in the power of prayer, and to pray specifically for groups of people within the community and across the nation.

Delynn Bodine, communication director for the Mesa Arizona West Coordinating Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serves as the mayor-appointed inaugural chair for “Together in Service,” a faith leader coalition that is a new city-supported initiative to inspire collaboration, innovation and creativity between city leaders and the faith community to meet the needs of Mesa.

“I think that the founders of our country would be pleased to know that we are here,” Bodine said as she welcomed that audience. “Those founders — who felt the importance and need for religious freedom — I think they would be glad to know that we all come from diverse backgrounds and beliefs and that we are here to unite in prayer. To pray for those in need, to pray for our country, and to express our gratitude for the many wondrous blessings that we have.”

Mesa Mayor John Giles addresses the audience and presents National Day of Prayer Proclamation 2024 at a National Day of Prayer event in Mesa, Arizona, on May 2, 2024. Photo by Scott P. Adair, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

After showing a video in which community members are interviewed about “Why I Pray,” Bodine introduced the faith leaders. They were invited to share comments about their belief in prayer and to pray in their tradition for a specific segment of the community, including young people, parents, teachers, first responders, military, faith leaders, peacemakers and bridge-builders, as well as for those experiencing hunger, homelessness, mental health challenges, disabilities and financial loss.

Those faith leaders were Pastor Christian Johnson, of First Presbyterian Church of Mesa, who represented the Christian faith; Nadia Khalighi of the Bahá'í Community; Andy Cheung, Buddhist; and Imam Kashif Mansoor, Islam. Pastor Johnson also filled in for Rabbi Tracee Rosen, who wasn’t able to attend and represent the Jewish faith.

Pastor Johnson, who also served on the planning committee, spoke of his hope of making this an annual tradition.

“It’s been a joy getting together with other faith leaders,” he said. “On several occasions we commented to each other that there was a spirit of respect and collaboration; I trust that our time together this evening will be an extension of that spirit.”

He gave the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13) as an example of how Jesus taught taught the way to pray. “You don’t have to say a lot of words; you don’t have to be fancy in your words,” he said. “It’s not about a transaction; it starts with a relationship.”

Imam Kashif Mansoor, of Masjid Al-Noor, said the Quran teaches “the Lord has said, ‘Call upon Me and I will respond,’ and He has not put any kind of restriction on who should call on Him — anybody who is in need can call upon God, and God will respond.”

Mesa Mayor John Giles and Delynn Bodine, communication director for the Mesa Arizona West Coordinating Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hold a proclamation with members of the interfaith planning committee and those who participated in the National Day of Prayer event in Mesa, Arizona, on May 2, 2024. Photo by Scott P. Adair, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Mesa Mayor John Giles, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented a city proclamation, which stated: “… the act of prayer encourages humility and gratitude for seen and unseen blessings individually and collectively; and praying together can bridge gaps and unite people of different religious, cultural and political backgrounds; and prayer often precedes actions to alleviate the suffering, tribulation and misfortune of others; and the power of prayer is often experienced through feelings of peace, unity and hope for individuals and families.”

He said: “Thank you for offering those prayers and, maybe more importantly, thank you for being the answer to those prayers in the way that you manifest service and love for your fellow man. Please keep doing it. Please continue to respond to those prayers and the promptings that you feel. I promise you those are inspired by God, and we need those responses. ...

“The National Day of Prayer reminds us that despite our religious, cultural or political backgrounds, we share a common goal — that is the well-being of our families and our communities. Faith and prayer are ways we give thanks for life’s most joyous moments and find strength in our most trying times,” he said. “We have to note that we are currently in a time of heightened religious and political contention, and a world that seeks to highlight contention, but tonight we embrace what unites us.”

Bodine offered closing remarks, urging those in attendance to continue in the spirit of prayer they felt during the program. “May we carry this out into our community, into our homes,” she said, “and let’s not leave it at just today is a Day of Prayer, but every day, a day of prayer.”

President Daken Skouson, of the Mesa Arizona North Stake, who serves on the interfaith committee, said, following the program, “It’s amazing how many good people are in this community and the blessing it is when we’re together, and the strength that we feel when we’re together.”

Doug Carroll, first counselor to President Skouson, said: “I truly believe what was said by Mayor Giles, that what we have in common brings us together — that is our faith, our belief in God and prayer. It’s wonderful to participate in an activity like this as a community; it unifies us and helps us.”

Sterling Baer and his wife, Michele, of the Mesa Arizona Salt River Stake, helped with and attended the event. Sterling Baer said, “It was inspiring and beautiful to be with such faith filled people from so many diverse religious backgrounds, all praying for the same things ... peace, harmony, safety, goodwill and brotherly love across the world and especially in our community here in Mesa, Arizona.”

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