Prayers held for community at annual event

Charles Doud/The Madera Tribune

From left: Annette Kwok, City Councilwoman CeCe Gallegos, Sherrie Bakke and Dennis Smith.


The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer “Pray for America — Unity,” based on Ephesians 4:3, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”

This verse issues a challenge to mobilize unified public prayer for America, according to the NDP website.

Hosted by the Madera Ministerial Association and Madera Chamber of Commerce civic leaders, elected officials and others gathered Thursday in Hatfield Hall to celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the 18th annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

“Speaking with pastors Randy Brannon and Roger Leach, I said we should hold these more often than once a year,” said Mayor Andy Medellin.

“In September we held an event at the Madera Unified School District to pray for our teachers and staff,” Medellin said. “We were hoping to get about 50 people and were pleasantly surprised to get more than 200.”

They are planning another prayer session in September, he said.

“I know I will never walk alone,” Medellin said. “God is good, God is faithful and God loves Madera.”

He credits his mother, former Mayor Marge Medellin and his wife of 28 years, Marcella, for everything he is, he said.

Medellin introduced this year’s keynote speaker, the dynamic former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearington.

“When I took office,” she said, “Fresno had been looking back on five decades of disappointment.”

Under her administration the city qualified for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, known as a Tiger grant. Using this funding, Fresno reopened the former Fulton Mall to through traffic.

Her detractors, including members of the Fresno City Council, said Mayor Swearington was naive, ignorant, foolish and a Pollyanna for her passion to reinvent and revitalize the downtown Fresno area.

“I’m not sure who Pollyanna is or what she is doing, but I refused to give up on a section of the city that is so densely populated.”

Refusing to focus on all the negative aspects of Fresno, she counseled the civic leaders of Madera to continue to believe in the community and let God’s guidance lead you, she said.

Since being invited to speak at this event she has prayed for Madera and mediated on the message she wanted to deliver.

“You have permission to hope, to celebrate the positive aspects of the community and to be disappointed when things go wrong,” she said. “What you focus on grows.”

Vision gives pain purpose, she said.

What kind of CEO for Fresno would she be if all she had done were to “bemoan the things that were wrong in Fresno?” she said. During one period Fresno was the butt of many (bad) jokes.

“Conan O’Brien offered on air to bring his bobble head to Fresno to attract tourists,” she said. “I wrote him a letter telling him we would love to have his bobble-head.”

O’Brien read her letter on air, she said.

“I believe things can change (for the better) and I’ll work my butt off to make it happen,” she said.

Throughout the event, members of the Madera Ministerial Association offered prayers for the government officials, law enforcement and others civic leaders.

An affair the size and scope of the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast is a community effort requiring months of preparation.

Sponsors of the event included Cedar Creek Senior Living, Citizens Business Bank, Jay Chapel, City of Madera Housing Authority, Jay Chapel, Pistoresi Ambulance, Sherman Thomas Charter School, The Well Madera Community Church, Fourth Street Church of God, Friends of Al Galvez, Giersch & Associates, Madera District Fair, Noble Credit Union, Valley West Christian Center, The Word Salon, Creative Copy, Harvest Community Church, Ernie and Susie LiCalsi, Candidate for Superior Court Judge Carol Moses, Madera County Food Bank, Dr. Cecilia Massetti, New Harvest Christian Fellowship, Mission Linen, Bobby and Patty Noblett, North Fork Rancheria, Red Rock Environmental Group and Yosemite Christian Center.

The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast committee extends special appreciation for the support of Madera Rescue Mission, Madera County Boot Camp, Sherman Thomas Charter School, Madera Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1981, Christina Herrera, Cedar Creek Catering, Christian Crossroads Christian School, and Sherman Thomas Charter High School. Live music featured Madera’s own Change of Heart Christian band, Lou Wiebe, Matt Harry, Frank Salcido, Rodney New, Steve Jones, Dave Pinske and Albert Jamison.

The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast committee was chaired by Lois Leonard and comprised of Sonia DeLaTorre, Jennifer Bruhn, Martin Vale, Joyce Lane, Roger Leach, Karen Leasure, Ryan McWherter, Jim Taubert, David Votaw and Lou Wiebe.