More than 350 attend revived prayer breakfast

That old time religion was back in La Cañada Flintridge for the first time in four years Thursday, as the YMCA of the Foothills saw more than 350 attendees fill its gymnasium for its 18th Community Prayer Breakfast.

The once-annual tradition that went on hiatus in 2007 will be back on the calendar next year and indefinitely after that, said Tyler Wright, president and chief executive and of the local Y organization.

The near-capacity crowd of La Cañada residents and local clergy came together for a morning of prayer, song and a rousing speech from talk radio host Dennis Prager.

Wright said that when he started in his current position about 18 months ago, he reached out to community members to find out what they thought was missing from the Y, and they asked for the return of the Prayer Breakfast. Even so, Wright said the community’s response to the event wowed his staff.

“I thought it went tremendously, in fact there were more people than we expected,” Wright said.

More than 400 tickets were sold for the breakfast, although apparently not everyone was able to get out of bed for its 7 a.m. start. Or perhaps they were unused to the breakfast taking place in autumn, when it had previously been a springtime affair.

Wright said that the Y plans to continue holding the breakfast in November, because of the strong connection between the spirit of the breakfast and the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

“It’s a community builder, people of all faiths can come together and just be together without having to worry about being judged or mocked,” Wright said.

From being led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Capt. David Silversparre, commander of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, to enjoying the powerful voice of singer Linda McCrary-Fisher, the crowd was attentive and engaged. Prayers for the world, nation, state and city, were led by a variety of local clergy of different faiths.

Ron Pearson, a La Cañada resident as well as a comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central, kept things moving as the master of ceremonies. Pearson’s jokes were in good taste but had some teeth, and kept the room chuckling.

Still, Pearson didn’t get half the laughs that keynote speaker Dennis Prager did, when he warmed up the room with a couple of inter-faith inclusive jokes of the “priest, pastor and rabbi,” variety. Prager, whose show broadcasts on AM970, moved to La Cañada in 2007.

After his warm-up, however, Prager launched into a serious inquiry of the topic, “Was America Meant to be a Secular Nation?”

Weighing the historical evidence of the founding fathers own religiosity, Prager argued that religion was necessary to instill the necessary morality for the American democratic experiment to flourish.

“Secularism is great for government, and bad for the individual and society,” said Prager.”If there is no God, there is no objective right or wrong.”

Prager’s message, along with well as the rest of morning’s prayers and ceremonies, was well received.

Jerry Martin, a former board member of the Y, said he thought the breakfast went off without a hitch, and he was happy to see it happening again.

“Each one is better than the one before,” said Martin. “I thought just about everything about it was great.”

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