A resolution changing how prayer is handled before meetings will be introduced during tonight’s Wilmington City Council meeting.
If approved, council would amend the rules, again, changing the wording on council’s meeting agendas from “silent reflection,” to “universal prayer,” under the order of business.
City Council President Hanifa Shabazz is sponsoring the resolution she’ll introduce tonight.
“Contrary to what others have suggested, prayer was never removed from our council meetings. To date, each meeting of the 107th session was opened by asking council members and the public to silently draw wisdom and guidance from a higher power to aid us in our efforts to act responsibly and in the best interest of the citizens of Wilmington,” Shabazz said.
This proposed change comes a month after Shabazz introduced legislation calling for a moment of silence at the start of city council meetings, instead of an actual prayer that began with, “Our Heavenly Father,” and ended with “Amen,” a practice that had been in place for decades.
That initial change, she said, was to be inclusive of all religions after fielding concerns from council members, faith leaders and residents in Wilmington about the prayer itself.
“The original intent of the change was to respect the diversity of spiritual doctrines held by all Wilmington residents, including council members. However, this has become an unnecessary distraction and my goal is to address it, resolve it, and move forward,” Shabazz said. “We have budget issues, we have public safety issues coming about, we have issues with our public fire department and so we’re spending all this time on this issue, when we need to be focused on those issues which we were elected to do.”
Councilman Sam Guy, and Councilwoman Yolanda McCoy are the measure’s other two sponsors. Co-sponsors include: Nnamdi Chukwuocha, Zanthia Oliver, Michelle Harlee, Vash Turner, Robert Williams, Bud Freel, Ciro Adams and Rysheema Dixon.
Tonight’s regular meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers inside the Louis L. Redding City/County Building in Wilmington.