Board chair breaks prayer tradition

Published 6:24 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The July Board of Supervisors meeting began a little differently.

Rather than a Board member leading the prayer, the Rev. James Jones did the honors. 

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Jones lives in Rushmere and is pastor of a church in Newport News, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson. 

This month it was Chairman Rudolph Jefferson’s turn to lead the invocation and he didn’t want to violate a federal court order, said Robertson. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Plus, it was a way to try out having a pastor lead the prayer rather than a Board member, said Robertson. 

The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal by Rowan County, N.C. of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision concerning prayer led by its elected commissioners. 

The court ruled that prayers led by the Rowan County commissioners violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

Virginia, including Isle of Wight, is located in the 4th Circuit, so the decision applies here as well. 

The Board conducts a prayer before each Board meeting, rotating between members, and often invokes Jesus Christ, which specifically represents Christianity. 

The Board discussed the court ruling at its June meeting, but since Newport District Supervisor William McCarty was absent, the Board plans to revisit the issue of prayer before meetings at its August meeting. McCarty is a pastor at Healing Waters Worship Center in Carrollton.  {/mprestriction}