Sacrifice and compassion were the underlying themes of an interfaith prayer service held in Georgetown on Sunday in advance of Gov. Jack Markell and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn's inauguration this week.
"Your prayers today are a needed comfort, as they are an affirmation of the work of governing that begins for us on Tuesday," Gov. Markell told the nearly one hundred people who attended the service at Delaware Technical and Community College's Owens Campus. "And I ask for your continuing prayers to bolster us in the face of adversity and consternation; when we fail, as humans will fail, and we need to start anew."
Sunday's prayer service was a part of the governor's week of service, which includes a series of events meant to highlight the importance of volunteering and community engagement.
During Sunday's event, Markell said public service requires personal sacrifice and he recalled how, during the week of service that coincided with his first inauguration in 2009, he spoke with young people from difficult backgrounds, who for the first time were the providers, rather than the recipients of community service.
"They discovered not only are there people more needy than they are, but they discovered the incredible healing power that we all get from helping others," he said. "All of us Delawareans can serve."
Lt. Gov. Matt Denn spoke about the impact one person can have, as evidenced by his son's late kindergarten teacher Judith Marsey, who he credited with playing a key role in rebuilding the boy's confidence even while she was suffering from metastatic bone cancer.
"What Judith Marsey did for Zach at a time when she was suffering herself was extraordinary service, and something for us all to aspire to in whatever type of work we do," he said. "And although Judith Marsey's standard is a daunting one, there are many people in our state every day who dedicate themselves to changing the lives of those in need, one at a time. They, too, are blessing."
Sunday's event featured performances by the Sussex Technical High School Choir and opened with a prayer from Imam Mouad Bekka of the Islamic Society of Central Delaware. It continued with prayers offered by Jeffrey Hawtof, president of the Seaside Jewish Community, Delaware National Guard Chaplain Lt. Col. Ed Brandt, Sussex County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kenneth S. Clark Jr., Sister Rosa Alvarez of the Carmelite Sisters Charity in Georgetown and The Rev. Max J. Wolf, rector of the Episcopal Parish of All Saints' Church and St. George's Chapel in Rehoboth Beach.
"Thank you creator for granting us the understanding that the diversity of Delaware's people deepens and enriches the lives of each of us, and is the basis of the strength of our state and its communities," Clarke said during in his prayer. "Guard us from fear of the other; fear that our individual security is somehow threatened when we make a place at the table for all."