Gary’s challenges cited at prayer breakfast
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/648-3154 June 19, 2012 3:42PM
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (far right) listens as Rev. James A. Wetzstein, University Pastor of Valparaiso University, (not visible) speaks during the Mayor's Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Genesis Center in Gary, Ind. Tuesday morning June 19, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 20, 2012 3:32PM
GARY — Leading her first Mayor’s Leadership Prayer Breakfast, Karen Freeman-Wilson acknowledged there are better days ahead for the challenged city.
As she promised many times on the campaign trail, Freeman-Wilson vowed Gary will be “the comeback story of the Rust Belt.”
About 100 people filled a second-floor banquet room at the Genesis Center for the breakfast co-sponsored by the Gary Lutheran Association and the city.
Dignitaries included State Sen. Vi Simpson, a Bloomington Democrat who is gubernatorial candidate John Gregg’s running mate.
Conceding the comeback is still “a work in progress,” Freeman-Wilson apologized for the room’s lack of air-conditioning. She said repairs should be completed on the balky system in about a month.
The mayor compared elected officials to church ushers. “You have to bring the people together and point them in the direction you want them to go,” she said. “But it’s not always where they want to go.”
The mayor said she offers a prayer each morning for her city.
“We are challenged in our city, there’s no question,” said Freeman-Wilson. “I don’t choose to focus on the challenges, we’d be having a pity party every day.” The mayor said she gives thanks “to God’s blessings” to the city.
The Rev. James A. Wetzstein, pastor of the Chapel of Resurrection at Valparaiso University, told the audience the VU chapel isn’t air-conditioned either.
“We tell the incoming freshmen to just bear with it.”
Simpson, the Senate’s minority leader, talked of growing up with a Catholic mom and Lutheran father. She alternated church services every week.
“I grew up confused, sometimes kneeling instead of standing but I was never confused about the kind of Christians my parents were.”
Simpson said her parents fostered hundreds of disabled children and instilled their “generosity of spirit.”
Sharing a favorite Bible verse from the book of John, she stressed deeds speak louder than words.
“It’s important for us as Christians to show every day that it means deeds and actions.”