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Lawmakers hear call for unity, compassion at governor’s prayer breakfast

by Ryan Pivoney | January 7, 2022 at 12:19 a.m.
Pastor John Modest Miles delivers an energizing speech Thursday during the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast at Capitol Plaza Hotel. Miles serves as pastor of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Kansas City. (Julie Smith/News Tribune)

United compassion will heal this splintered nation, Pastor John Modest Miles told state leaders Thursday.

Miles, the longtime pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Kansas City, was the featured speaker at the annual governor’s prayer breakfast Thursday morning at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

Roughly 600 people were in attendance, host Branden Rathert said, including several state lawmakers, Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson, and Missouri Supreme Court justices.

Rathert, host of Wake Up Columbia and a longtime friend of Parson, took over hosting the event from Mike Roberts, who hosted the breakfast for several years.

The event brings together scores of state government officials for coffee, reflection and prayer at the start of the legislative session.

“Our world is broken,” Miles said. “It always has been, but recently, I feel like our brokenness is showing more than ever.”

Miles said the United States is fighting a triple pandemic of systemic racism, poverty and COVID-19, as well as all the “interlocking injustices”  in between.

“Our world is nervous, our world is jumping, our world is irritable, restless, frustrated, quick-tempered, unhappy and all the rest,” Miles said.

In such a fractured world, it can be hard to know what to do, he admitted, but a turn toward faith and compassion won’t steer lawmakers wrong, he said.

Miles said mankind’s compassion for one another, no matter what political beliefs are, will lead the nation to a “fair and unbiased remedy” to its current “moral crisis.”

Working together, Miles said, people from all walks of life can reshape the consciousness of the state, restore hope and turn the tide on a pervading moral value that has become spiritually “bankrupt.”

Like Miles, Parson recognized the nation’s divisions and suggested Missourians, particularly lawmakers, take a step back and reflect on blessings.

Parson also talked about the courage of Moses in demanding the release of Israelites from slavery in Egypt, which was covered at the Concord Baptist Church prayer breakfast Wednesday.

“I get to thinking of all the challenges we have in this country and in this state today, we just got to go right back to where we were,” Parson said. “Go back to your faith, go back to true leadership and follow the path.”

Parson said God and faith won’t always take problems away, but together they can create a path to deal with the issue and move forward.

“I think if we all focus on that, we’ll have a path to get through this session,” Parson said. “We’ll get through a path to be good leaders, good spiritual leaders to set the example. I think that’s what we’re here for.”

Several individuals were also invited to read scripture, including state Rep. Hannah Kelly, state Sen. Sandy Crawford, and Elijah Mayfield, who works in the Governor’s Office.


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