Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune
Two generations of Madera Mayors, left, Marge Medellin Esquibel and son, Mayor Andy Medellin, enjoy the 17th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, on Thursday.
Madera civic leaders, elected officials and others gathered in Hatfield Hall to celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the 17th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
The annual event was hosted May 4 by the Madera Ministerial Association and the Chamber of Commerce.
The theme was from Daniel 9:19, “O Lord, hear, O Lord, forgive, O Lord, listen and act. Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people are called by your name.”
Prayers were offered by members of the ministerial association for those attending from education, law enforcement agencies and governing bodies.
Pastor Jim Franklin of the Cornerstone Church in Fresno, who also has a weekly show on KMJ-AM, gave the keynote address.
Franklin, originally of rural Oklahoma, has not lost his southern drawl.
“I want to say thank you for your candidness and openness at a time when too many elected officials are moving away from their faith,” he told the audience. “I am grateful to see men like you embracing their faith and not ashamed to talk about their relationship with God,” said Franklin, speaking directly to Mayor Andy Medellin, who had just spoken about his younger years with his father, and how he discovered the efficacy of prayer. “Be proud of your daddy,” he said to the Medellin family.
“You all can tell I’m not from California,” said Franklin, who remarked with tongue in cheek that he was bilingual. “Today I’ll be speaking in my native languages, English and Okie.”
He praised the city of Madera for its Neighborhood Watch program, about which Mayor Pro-Tem Cece Foley Gallegos had spoken.
“I’m not sure why God brought my family to the center of California,” he said. “Growing up, the only gang I knew anything about was Alfalfa and Spanky.”
“I’m not an actor. I’m not a politician. You have those here. I am a preacher and I am gonna’ preach here a little bit today,” he said.
“Our church is on Fulton Street, and you all know about the tragedy we had on Fulton Street a few weeks ago,” he said. “An insane man, a violent man, walked down the street shooting innocent people indiscriminately. Had he not been stopped at Fulton and Divisadero, he was literally two blocks from our church!”
“I thank God for our law enforcement. I thank God for our police department,” said Franklin.
Referencing 2 Chronicles 15:6, one nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.
“Without God, not that God wasn’t there, but the people were turning away from God, much like what is going on across the country today,” he said.
He praised the city of Madera for its recent decision to post the words “In God We Trust,” on the wall of the city council chambers. On Thursday, he said, the Fresno City Council is set to vote on posting it there as well.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said the role of the church is not the master or servant of the state but the conscience of the state, Franklin said. It must be the guide and critic of the state and never its tool.
If we don’t bring the church back to the center of our lives, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority, King said.
“It is our job as pastors to bring the church back to the center of the human race,” he said. “To do that we need to bring Christ back to the center of our church,” he said. “As for the government, God is not going to fix the White House until we fix the church-house,” Franklin said.
“Sodom and Gomorrah weren’t destroyed because of the sin that resided there, because sin is everywhere,” Franklin said. “Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because when God told Abraham to go and find him 10 righteous men, they did not show up.”
“The church is America’s greatest hope,” Franklin said. “Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not the Independents, but the church that can turn this country around,” he said.
“Make this event as strong as you can make it every year,” said Franklin. “Spread the word.”
It is in the neighborhoods, not these meetings, where we strengthen our communities, he said. Government can’t do it. The government is a mess, he said. We, the church, are to be the light of the world. We need to be the saving factor in our communities, he said. Don’t give up and don’t back down.
“We as pastors of the church need to bring the people in and minister to them. If there will be a change that happens in Madera, in California, in our nation, it must come from the church,” Franklin said.