Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mayor Rick Baker hosts his last prayer breakfast before leaving office in January

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Baker's face was serene. He strummed the first few notes of Amazing Grace on his guitar and took a breath.

Almost showtime.

Thursday morning marked his final Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, an annual event he founded with the YMCA. More than 500 people — from politicos to pageant queens — filled the coliseum, listening to music and clergymen.

Baker's red tie was covered in tiny ichthys, the criss-crossed fish symbol adopted by Christians.

"I believe in the power of prayer," said Baker, whose last day in office is Jan. 1. "I believe in individual prayer, I believe in corporate prayer. I think it works."

The event, not funded by taxpayers, has been an annual trademark of Baker's eight years in St. Petersburg's highest office. It's one of his favorite events. He moved through the room Thursday shaking hands and hugging most everyone.

This year, it came in the midst of an election in which religion, dinosaurs and evolution have become political throwing stars. It came at a time when billboards around town promote merging God and politics.

Mayoral candidates Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford both attended. The mayor publicly welcomed them both, but Foster, a conservative Christian, sat at a table with Baker's family. Both candidates said they would continue the breakfast if elected.

While some politicians stumble over faith, Baker, a Baptist, has forged a relatively savvy marriage of politics and religion.

"Your value system and faith is part of everything, and I don't think you can separate that out," he said. "The key is not to force it on other people."

At the breakfast, Baker was surprised with a citizen award named after late community activist Chester James. Speakers showered him with praise and prayed for children, families, personal responsibility and communities. They prayed for the candidates.

"Thank you for giving us a mayor, Lord, that is not ashamed of you," said the Rev. Louis Murphy of Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. "Thank you for both candidates and their willingness to serve. … I pray that after it is all said and done, we will come together and unite as one."

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

Mayor Rick Baker hosts his last prayer breakfast before leaving office in January 10/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2009 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa

    Blogs

    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    Victor Hedman, far left, is especially happy to see Steven Stamkos back after Stamkos assists on his goal 33 seconds into the game vs. the Predators.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.