Originally created 11/29/06

Mayor says pray, work for Augusta



For prayer, community members came together, and through prayer they believe they can move the community forward.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, business leaders, ministers and others gathered at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church on Tuesday morning to continue the mayor's series of prayer breakfasts.

Prayers have played a role in everything good in the community, such as recent job announcements and talk of economic growth, Mr. Copenhaver said.

"It's right for people to pray for this community, and we're seeing these prayers answered," he said as those in attendance prayed for the city's continued growth.

Phin Hitchcock, a missionary from Fireside Ministries, referenced the Book of Nehemiah, which tells how the people of Israel came together to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

They set aside personal agendas and had a "mind to work," he said.

"We have great expectations for the future of this city," Mr. Hitchcock said, asking the community to have a similar "mind to work" for the betterment of Augusta.

To make that a reality, prayers called for unity.

"We know there's hurt, but we know there's healing and already there is hope," said Walter Dukes, a Burke County minister.

Afterward, Mr. Copenhaver said the community must come together in events such as the prayer breakfast and focus on what they have in common, which includes a shared desire for the welfare of their children.

"I always go by the words that a house divided will never stand," he said. "One common issue is opportunity - economic opportunity."

The mayor said that no matter their race or economic standing, parents tell him they want their children to have the opportunity to live and work in Augusta.

It all goes back to economic development and recruiting businesses that will invest in the community to provide these opportunities for them to stay, the mayor said. By building the tax base, a "holistic approach" can also be taken to "community-building," such as addressing the needs of the 20 percent who live below the poverty line and the fact that the county ranks third in the state in per capita HIV cases.

"Mutual cooperation has to be the word of the day," Mr. Copenhaver said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.