Council provides direction regarding invocation discussion

Following input from the community, the Susanville City Council directed staff it would be in favor of adding a prayer, thought of the day, and/or moment of silence in addition to the invocation.

City Administrator/ Chief of Police Kevin Jones polled the board regarding the change.

“Leaving the invocation where it is and adding prayer/thought of the day/moment of silence on a rotating bases, would that satisfy the majority of the board?” Jones asked Wednesday evening. “We would still keep invocation, yet we would have another option for a prayer or thought of the day or moment of silence that would rotate among council members and staff.”

The board affirmed they would be in favor of the amendment.

“That seems a lot more inclusive, so that sounds fine, too,” answered Councilmember Quincy McCourt.

The item will come back during the March 3 meeting for formal action.

The matter was brought back to the board after direction was given for staff to research modification of this topic to give council members and/or staff to read a prayer and/or thought of the day/moment of silence.

Any change to the item requires a modification to the Municipal Code. This would include two separate City Council meetings and a 30-day waiting period after the code is modified, according to the agenda item.

Prior to public comment, Jones clarified what exactly the board was hoping to achieve with the change: Either replace the invocation with the rotating choice, or add an approved prayer and/or thought of the day /moment of silence in addition to the invocation, which was unanimously adopted by the city council in just March of 2020.

McCourt noted he agreed with councilmember Kevin Stafford that blessings were important and he was not against prayer.

“Lets ensure that there are blessings at every council meeting and that delivery alternates between staff and council, with the added opportunity to include, along with the blessings, the option for an additional thought of the day and/or moment or silence, which would require a change,” McCourt said.

The Mayor noted her desire to not have it removed.

“I believe the invocation is very important and needs to stay. We need prayer now more than ever,” said Schuster, adding councilmembers could still add a thought of the day or prayer under item 14 of the agenda.

During the meeting, several community members voiced their concerns regarding the matter.

Many commented they were concerned with any removal of the prayer from the meeting and wanted clarification whether the invocation would remain at every single meeting, or if the rotation would allow for it to be replaced at some of the meetings.

“Lets keep the invocation as it is, and if you want to add another prayer, or a good thought, that’s great. But keep that invocation so this city may know that we are one people under God,” one meeting attendee said.

The matter will come before the board for a vote during its March 3 City Council meeting.