The Sedalia Kiwanis will host its annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Saturday. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prayer breakfast couldn’t be hosted in May and was moved to September. 

Judy Ebers, a Kiwanis member and organizer of the event, said the prayer breakfast began about 15 years ago when the late Mayor Bob Wasson was in office. 

“He was diagnosed with cancer while he was mayor,” she explained. “He really felt like it (prayer) was needed.”

She added Wasson’s wife, Elle Duggan, will be at this year’s prayer breakfast and offer the opening prayer and present a framed Bible verse, II Chronicles 7:14.

“We will have prayers by several different ministers,” Ebers said. “And we will be honoring students that have been nominated by some ministers. Most of these will be graduates of 2020, that kind of got overlooked (due to COVID-19).” 

She added the breakfast always focuses on youth. 

“The prayer breakfast is to bring human and spiritual recognition to be presented to our high school junior, senior youth in our community,” she explained. “We recognize their spiritual input in their churches and their pastors are nominating them.”

Ebers said the pastors usually chose a young person who has “demonstrated Christian values,” shown leadership in their church, participates in community service and has a good academic background. 

“I know the nominees this year, most of them have all been on the National Honor Society,” she added. “Right now, I have eight nominees that have been submitted for awards.”

Kiwanis members will present the awards along with Sedalia Mayor John Kehde, who will also speak at the breakfast.

Ebers said club members truly wanted the prayer breakfast to take place and be a source of encouragement and faith during the pandemic and the social “upheaval” taking place across the country.

“… We need prayer more than ever,” she added. “People are fearful of what’s ahead. So, we just feel like we want to come together to encourage people.”

Kiwanis President Gary Beckman echoed Ebers’ sentiment.

“We usually do this in May, and obviously, with the pandemic, it got suspended,” he noted. “We as Kiwanians see the value of celebrating our youth, and we wanted to do this in a safe way.

“We didn’t want to just skip a year,” he continued. “We wanted to make sure that the good in our community with the youth is celebrated and honor our civic leaders, including the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.”

Vice President Tom Van Leer added they wanted to tie the event “around the spiritual aspect of prayer.”

Mary Merritt, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Sedalia-Pettis County, is the event’s special speaker.

Three young women will receive scholarships during the service: Ashley Webb, a Smith-Cotton High School graduate who is attending the University of Missouri-Columbia; Summer Caton, a Sacred Heart High School graduate who is attending Missouri Southern University in Springfield; and Matilyn Hayes, a Green Ridge High School graduate who is attending State Fair Community College.

The public is invited to attend the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast hosted at 10 a.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church Celebration Center, 1701 W. 32nd St. The event is free. The Sedalia Kiwanis meets at noon every Thursday at Lamy’s, 108 Pacific St. For more information, call Van Leer at 314-803-4109. 

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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