Indiana citys clergy plan rival National Day of Prayer events

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) A Christian-centered prayer service at Muncie city hall that excludes other faiths has prompted plans for a rival interfaith gathering there later that day.

Pastor William Keller, an organizer of the original National Day of Prayer observance, said it is a Christian gathering'' and he could not imagine Jewish and Muslim prayers at the May 1 ceremony.

In response, Unitarian Universalist minister Thomas Perchlik and other members of the Muncie Area Ministers Association decided to hold a rival interfaith event. Supporters include Temple Beth-El, the Muncie Islamic Center and Baptist, Lutheran and Quaker churches.

Muncie Mayor Dan Canan, who is scheduled to speak at both events, said it would have been nice'' to have a single prayer event.

In 1988, President Reagan signed a law establishing the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer Task Force says more than 2 million people nationwide typically attend observances.

The ceremonies are held at city halls in part because prayers are offered for government leaders.

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