As he spoke shortly before praying at the 100th consecutive prayer breakfast Tuesday at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church, Hobbs told community members that attending the event gave him courage to step outside his comfort zone on Sunday mornings, even when he was traveling.
“It broke the barrier of diversity in my life,” he said.
Because the breakfasts are held at churches across the community, he finds himself visiting churches such as Trinity on the Hill that are predominantly white, something Hobbs, who is black, would not have been comfortable doing on his own.
Hobbs told attendees that in his experience, Sunday had become the most segregated day of the week, because people tend to worship and socialize with people who “look just like us.”
Following Tuesday’s prayer meeting, he walked through the misty morning to the church’s fellowship hall to enjoy breakfast casserole, cheese grits and fruit along with other community members and faith leaders, something he also said he would not have been comfortable doing before he began attending the monthly event.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver said diversity has always been what the breakfasts were about. He began the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast shortly after taking office in 2005.
It was designed to be as inclusive as possible, to offer people of all races, socio-economic statuses and faith traditions to offer prayers for the city and the nation.
In 2010, the breakfast was renamed the Community Prayer Breakfast after an anti-religion group questioned the use of city resources to sponsor them. A group of volunteers took over organizing the event.
Tuesday, Rabbi Robert Klensin of the Congregation Children of Israel offered prayers in the Jewish tradition, along with Father Jerry Ragan of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church, Alleluia Community member Gary Garner, and others.
“The thing that is so heartwarming to me is that you do have people from all walks of life, throughout the city that have established relationships through the years,” Copenhaver said. “I think historically, Augusta has been portrayed as a community divided, but through these prayer breakfasts so many walls have been torn down and relationships established, and it’s built a stronger fabric of the community.”
The next prayer breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. April 22 at Tabernacle Baptist Church.