Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Guests at the annual Clayton County Ministers Association breakfast participate in a worshipful rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ before enjoying grits, eggs and biscuits.
By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Guests of the annual Clayton County Ministers Association prayer breakfast joined in a rousing rendition of "Amazing Grace" Thursday morning, to the delight of jail Chaplain Fred Shillow.
"That song right there is the battle hymn of inmates," he said. "Even while they are incarcerated, they can relate to God's graces. If you want to hear a group of men sing, start with 'Amazing Grace.' They all know the words."
It was fitting, then, that the annual breakfast was held in the facility that houses the county jail and nearly 2,000 inmates. Deputy Curtis Johnson led the group in singing the inspirational hymn.
An estimated 50-60 people attended the breakfast, which was first held at the sheriff's office 16 years ago and was supposed to rotate out into other venues. However, Rev. Mike Glanton said the hospitality has been so great that another location hasn't been sought.
"The sheriffs have been so good to us through the years, they've blessed the occasion," he said. "And we're blessed that Sheriff Victor Hill has the heart of Jesus and the heart of God to celebrate with us here."
Shillow said the community can only be effective "if we work together." He said he was pleased with Thursday's turnout for the breakfast, held in the roll call room. Extra chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the overflow of guests.
"It's good for the ministers to come together," he said. "Our mission is all the same. If you take a military unit for the same missing, they all come together to attack the enemy. And Satan is always the enemy."
Shillow said all denominations were invited and the guest ministers crossed faith lines to include Muslims and Hispanic religions.
Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner attended the breakfast and shared the head table with Clayton County police Chief Greg Porter, Hill, Pastor Leon Beeler from Forest Park, Glanton and Pastor James Harris.
Turner said prayer is vital to the success of a community.
"Prayer is important," he said. "This brings our faith-based community together. Our county, state and country needs prayer and this provides us with the opportunity to come together as a county to pray."
Glanton told the group the event is about help.
"This is not about organizations," he said. "It's about help. It's not about politics. It's about who's committed to Jesus Christ our Savior. We can only be a strong community if we come together."
Pastor Wilbert Jordan offered a scripture reading of Psalms 27 before Lakewin Christian Center Pastor Harry Riley gave an invocation and breakfast blessing.
"I always get the greatest 'amen' when I bless the food," Riley joked. The group didn't disappoint.
During breakfast, guests heard remarks from Hill, Harris, Beeler and Pastor E.J. Childs. Wes Lee led the group in several inspirational songs and Pastor Wesley Greene gave the benediction to close out the event.
Shillow said he was pleased with the results.
"We made sure to inform more people this year," he said. "It was a great turnout, better than last year's."