Originally created 05/08/99

Leaders promote virtues



Civic leaders challenged each other Friday to improve Augusta by improving themselves.

About 400 people attended the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at Sheraton Augusta Hotel. The breakfast was the first under Mayor Bob Young, who was elected in November.

At the breakfast, Mr. Young and other civic leaders challenged the crowd to bring change in Augusta by improving their own character.

"We didn't come here just to pray here this morning," Mr. Young said. "We came here to be rejuvenated, to be renewed, to take the message here and apply it in our everyday lives to make Augusta the city on the hill."

Mr. Young filled in for U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., as keynote speaker. Flight cancellations because of Thursday's bad weather forced Mr. Norwood to remain in Washington, said Mr. Young, who almost was stranded himself.

Mr. Young used Friday's breakfast to push Augusta's new "City of Character" campaign. The campaign, already under way in several American cities, will promote personal responsibility among Augusta's citizens, speakers said.

"We have a society that to a large degree does not know right from wrong," said Hutch Hutchins, a doctor who is spearheading the local campaign. "Every social problem today can be traced back to a lack of specific character qualities."

The campaign will push employers to establish character-building programs among employees, and also push for such programs through schools and other outlets, Dr. Hutchins said. A "Community Coalition for Character" will be selected from a pool of community leaders, he said.

Miracle Making Ministries Inc. played host to Friday's breakfast, said its president, Robert L. Williams. He said he was thrilled with the turnout, noting that the event sold out Wednesday and about 100 people had to be turned away.

Brandon Haddock can be reached at (706) 823-3409 or bhaddock@augustachronicle.com.