JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon knows that Missourians pray for him and that it helps give him strength to make the difficult decisions he faces.
“As I travel the state and see people, they come up and say, ‘I’m praying for you,'” Nixon said following a dedication service for Missouri government leaders at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, the state capital, in January.
“I know I’m not alone,” he said.
Nixon is the first Democratic governor to attend the dedication service, an annual event started during a Republican governorship. His executive branch was among the various levels of government prayed for by those in attendance.
David Tolliver, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, gave the charge to government leaders preceding the prayers of dedication.
Tolliver called the Show-Me State “the best part of the United States” and discussed four topics of concern to Missouri Christians:
Freedom — “Freedom is something Christians especially understand. Not every Missouri person is free, because you cannot experience genuine and lasting freedom unless you experience Jesus Christ in your heart,” Tolliver said.
Faithfulness — While many Protestant ministers may be skeptical even of the existence of God, Tolliver said it is only as people put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ that they indeed become the people of God.
Position — “The United States is not a world power and world leader because it is smarter than all the nations of the world,” Tolliver said, “but it is a great nation because, across the years, it has been a good nation.”
Problems — Americans may not agree on every issue, but there are some to agree on, Tolliver said, citing economic struggles facing many families, crime and violence, and pornography. “Many of our problems,” he said, “can be traced back to rejection of God and His Word.”
Tolliver expressed appreciation to Nixon “for a state government and a governor willing to work with faith groups,” noting, “Governor, you visited our disaster relief sites. We are grateful for your partnership.”
Speaking to all the elected officials present, Tolliver told them, “We live in the greatest nation and the greatest state in this nation. God, in His sovereignty, has given you the responsibility for the welfare of this state.
“As Christians in America, you and I have the opportunity to experience full and lasting happiness. Jesus Christ has made it possible.
“You set the stage. You pass the laws. You provide for the welfare of this state. We pray for you; it’s our commitment to you. You have our continued prayers.”
Tolliver’s charge was followed by prayer for four different groups of public servants, their families and their staffs.
Bob Loggins, the Missouri convention’s prayer and spiritual awakening staff member, offered the prayer for the executive branch. He prayed especially that the governor, when making difficult decisions, would have his heart in the place of prayer, “with bended knee and bowed down head, You [God] would use him.”
Pam Bultmann, director of education at Concord Baptist Church, led the prayer for the judicial branch, with four of Missouri’s seven Supreme Court justices in attendance at the event.
Jerry Field, MBC associate executive director, prayed for the state senators in attendance, and Gary Taylor, MBC evangelism director, offered prayer for those attending from the House of Representatives.
Michael Knight, pastor of First Baptist Church in Viburnum, served as master of ceremonies, with host pastor Monte Shinkle giving the opening prayer. A Marine Corps League color guard presented the colors.
The Jan. 6 dedication service was jointly sponsored by the MBC’s Christian Life Commission, the convention’s Pathway newsjournal and Concord Baptist Church.
Barbara Shoun is a contributing writer for The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.