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. Tarpon Springs fire chief to retire in September after 39 years

    Local Government

    TARPON SPRINGS — When Richard Butcher got involved with Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue in 1978, he had just moved down from Ohio.

    Tarpon Springs fire Chief Richard Butcher is retiring after 39 years of service.
  2. Seeking change, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn goes outside for new fire marshal

    Fire

    TAMPA — Sarasota County Fire Marshal John Reed has been hired as Tampa's new fire marshal, and Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he wants Reed to shake up Tampa Fire Rescue's building inspection bureau.

    Sarasota County Fire Marshal John Reed, 53, will make $118,310 a year as the new fire marshal for the city of Tampa. [City of Tampa]
  3. Ruth: Trump is no Boy Scout in speech to scouts

    Columns

    It could have been worse. At least the Boy Scouts of America didn't invite Dennis Rodman to address its 19th jamboree to discuss American foreign policy with North Korea and the art of nose piercings.

    President Donald Trump addressed the Boy Scouts’ national jamboree in Glen Jean, W. Va.
  4. PSTA, wary of future cuts, keeps property tax rate steady

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority stands to lose $2 million a year if voters approve an expansion to Florida's homestead property exemption on the 2018 ballot.

    One of The PInellas Suncoast Transit Authority's hybrid busses. The PSTA's governing board voted Wednesday to maintain the current property tax rate. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
  5. Rays power way to 5-1 win over Orioles on eve of crucial road trip

    The Heater

    St. PETERSBURG — The Rays didn't get many hits in the early going Wednesday, but they got a couple that went a long way and that was enough to beat the Orioles, 5-1.

    Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) hugs catcher Jesus Sucre (45) after Souza's solo home run in the seventh inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]