The freezing temperatures and misty rain did not stop hundreds of Mayor Kasim Reed’s supporters, family members, staff, and friends from filling the wooden pews of Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta. They gathered to celebrate diversity in faith at The Inaugural Interfaith Worship Service- just one of the many events to celebrate Mayor Reed’s second term. Mayor Reed walked down the center aisle of the church sanctuary to the front pew to sit between his loving mother and girlfriend. He smiled as he listened to a musical selection from the Chosen Choir of Shaw Temple AME Zion Church. Esteemed clergy of different denominations shared prayers and warm sentiments with Mayor Reed, along with readings from the Bible to a reading from the Torah. Scriptures and passages were carefully picked just for the occasion.
Bishop Robert C. Wright delivered a powerful interfaith address that kept the audience applauding and nodding. He and Mayor Reed have ties that go back before Atlanta,as they are both Howard University graduates.
“What a wonderful and happy occasion this is, Mr. Mayor, my Howard University brother and classmate. I am not sure that we dreamed [in] those years that you would be here, and I sure didn’t believe that I would be here. But that is another sermon, and let me tell you the subject of that sermon would be ‘if not for His grace’,” Bishop Wright said laughingly.
Wright emphasized the importance of a leader who understands that “God speaks in many tongues” and all citizens working under one accord. “Real interfaith work is not so much in the praying, but in doing. In the going, giving, and comforting.” Bishop Wright directed the audience to love everyone no matter the political persuasion – red or blue – love and pray from them alike.
Reed’s mother sang, “The Lord Will Make A Way,” and attendees gave Mayor Reed a standing applause as he made his way to the podium. In his opening remarks he asked for a moment of silence for his brother and sister-in-law who were absent due to the passing of his sister-in-law’s mother. He said that it was tough to go through a celebration without all of his loved ones.
Reed then paid homage to the Atlanta City Council, the judiciary, and the former Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador Andrew Young.
The mayor told the story of how as a youngster, he saw Ambassador Young speak at Ben Hill Baptist Church and admitted that in fact his mother groomed him to meet Ambassador Young. He later sat on the board of Howard University with Ambassador Young. Mayor Reed shared that prior to the board meeting he would strategically have the staff place his nameplate by Ambassador Young, and that he read all of the board policies and materials because he knew Ambassador Young did not have time to read it.
“So I wanted to be the smart guy who knew everything and that preparation really changed the trajectory of my life” said Mayor Reed.
Reed reflected upon a conversation that he had with Ambassador Young on Howard University’s campus about a job opportunity in New York. Ambassador Young directed him to come back to Atlanta because in 20 years Atlanta would need a mayor like him.
As Reed told the story, Ambassador Young nodded his head in agreement. Reed then proceeded to give a mini history lesson on the city of Atlanta. He referenced the Great Atlanta fire of 1917. He told how Atlanta was “knocked down” but rose again. He said that his current position is one of the best positions he has ever had, but it isn’t easy and he has to rely on prayer.
“Things that the City of Atlanta has done are impossible but for prayer” said Mayor Reed. He then ended with giving credit to the City Council for the changes being seen in Atlanta. Changes such as violent crime in Atlanta is down 18 percent , seniors in 20 to 30 years will see 100 percent of pension, 1,000 teens visit the recreational centers weekly throughout the city, and crimes committed by teens in Atlanta are down by 25 percent. Mayor Reed challenged others to get up whenever they are knocked down because the ground is no place for a champion. The crowd gave him a standing ovation in his closing statements.