Prayer breakfast preaches unity

NORTH GLENDALE — A message of faith and unity as a means to overcome the challenges city leaders often face in community service rang Thursday through a crowded Hilton Glendale ballroom.

Many of the city’s top government officials and community leaders were among the hundreds of people who attended the 45th annual Glendale Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

Keynote speaker Ann Meyers Drysdale — who won a silver medal as part of the first U.S. women’s basketball team at the 1976 Olympics, and in 1980 became the first woman to sign a contract with the National Basketball Assn. — relayed her years of pushing through as a pioneer in women’s sports to lay the groundwork for her message of faith and perseverance against life’s obstacles.

“Is it adversity, or is it a gift?” she said.

Working through a challenge builds character, whether or not it produces success in the conventional sense, Meyers Drysdale added.

“Failure is not final. Success is not finite,” she said.

Glendale’s leadership has worked through a turbulent 2007 and faces an uncertain 2008. The City Council has — at least publicly — moved past the disorder that was predominant last fall and is poised to adopt sweeping procedural changes for the Planning Department and other city policies.

But some major nonprofit social service providers face reduced grant funding this year, and an economic downturn is providing little light at the end of the tunnel.

“You are not shackled by the past, you go boldly into the future,” said Pastor John Jackson of the Church of the Brethren.

Relying on faith for personal fortitude might be enough to overcome personal challenges, but uniting as a community is the only way to address citywide issues “through rough and calm waters,” some speakers at the event said.

“A city’s mission is to ensure the prosperity of its citizenry,” City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian said.

And Glendale leaders have done that, Mayor Ara Najarian said while thanking a wide and varied crowd of municipal program administrators, government executives, nonprofit service providers and religious leaders.

“When it’s time for me, when it’s time for us, we can say we left Glendale just a little bit better for the next generation,” he told the crowd.

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