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NEWPORT BEACH : Clergy’s Help Asked on Council Prayers

Faced with dwindling interest in maintaining the tradition of opening City Council meetings with prayer, the city is seeking help from a consortium of the clergy in trying to save the practice.

In a last-ditch effort to woo support for the invocations, the city will ask the Harbor Area Interfaith Consortium to step in and help recruit members of the clergy to do the prayers.

“I think it’s been a very nice thing to have,” said Councilwoman Jean H. Watt, who encouraged the council to find a way to maintain the practice.

Councilman Clarence J. Turner originally suggested the policy review. He recommended that if church participation was insufficient, the council replace the prayer with a moment of silence.

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Mayor Phil Sansone agreed that a silent moment would be an acceptable alternative to the traditional prayer if a better system for attracting members of the clergy could not be devised.

However, Councilman John Hedges opposed such a plan. “I think a moment of silence is kind of like snacking when you’re hungry for a full meal,” he said.

The council did not vote on the issue but agreed to look into an alternate way of contacting the religious leaders and encouraging them to participate.


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