No Prayers at the City Council Meetings

NEWBURGH – Until now, regular Newburgh City Council sessions began with a prayer by a member of the clergy.

Late last year, a few council members and city residents expressed concern that the prayers may not necessarily be inclusive of all faiths. So instead, the council opted to start the meetings – beginning with Monday night’s – with a moment of silence.

As Councilwoman Patty Sofokles said, that allows each person time to pray or reflect in his or her own way.

Removing the prayer did not sit well with Councilwoman Hillary Rayford, an ordained preacher.
“We do need prayer,” she said, quoting a passage from the Bible, “Pray without ceasing.”

Rayford said she believes in “God’s word and if we don’t do what he has us do, we’re doomed, and we all know that.”

Mayor Torrance Harvey, who noted he is “a praying man; a Christian,” said there were a couple of council members offended by the prayer. “If any one person is offended by our prayer, we have to respect the beliefs of others.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email