Lake County (FL) Commission Meeting
26 August 2014
Paul Tjaden (291 words - 1:45)

Members of the County Commission and staff, citizens and guests of Lake County, for today's invocation, rather than bowing your heads, please take a moment to look around at others who are here this morning. Fifty years ago had you done that the people you'd be looking at would be folks pretty much like yourself; people who had grown up in Lake County and who shared the same faith and culture.

But since then, our community has seen incredible growth. People have moved here from other states and from countries and cultures around the world. We have citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, and people who profess no religious belief at all. Because of that, I believe that any prayer in this diverse setting could cause at least some of our citizens to feel like outsiders—that they had entered a place where their requests or problems might be considered with suspicion or indifference because their beliefs differed from the majority.

Because of this, and in respect to all of our citizens, I come before you not to pray, but instead to invoke the spirit of good will between all of us. To be sure, we don't agree about everything and sometimes we feel fiercely protective of what we do believe, but there's one thing on which we can all agree: we share the goal of making our Lake County the best place it can be.

It is my hope that at this meeting, we will work together to make positive changes in our County. lt is my hope that respect is always extended to others and it is my hope that logic and reason guide the decisions of all within and outside of this room.

Thank you.