The Interfaith Alliance of Idaho will perform a dedicatory prayer service in the Idaho State Capitol Building the same day the Idaho Capitol Commission will open the newly-renovated building back up to the public.
Jana Kemp, a member speaking on behalf of the group, confirmed to IdahoReporter.com the alliance applied for, and received, permission to hold the prayer service from the capitol’s facilities managers. Kemp also said twelve days after the meeting Commissioner Jeff Youtz contacted her about the event and said the commission would give the nod to the alliance for the prayer service. Though they have approved the event, the commission will not officially recognize the dedicatory prayer as part of the weekend’s activities.
Prior to the Idaho Capitol Commission’s December 16, the Interfaith Alliance of Idaho asked commission members for official recognition of a dedicatory prayer event for the new building. The alliance told the commission the prayer service would include pastors, rabbis, and priests of various denominations from around the Treasure Valley and proposed it to coincide with the commission’s planned events for the re-opening of the Capitol Building.
During the meeting, the commission discussed the prayer service, but decided to not officially recognize or sponsor the event as one of the activities for the grand re-opening. Commissioners invited a priest from a church in Boise to offer the invocation for the event and decided that will suffice as far as religious activities for the celebration.
At the meeting, commissioners were sure to note that the alliance would not be denied access to the Capitol at any point after the official grand re-opening, but they would not officially sanction the planned prayer service.
“If they want to shake their beads on Sunday in a formal way, than that’s okay,” said Commission Secretary Mike Gwartney, Director of the Department of Administration.
The requests to the commission were made by Kemp, who is a running as Independent candidate for Governor in 2010. Commissioners said they wanted to keep the focus on the building and not on politics.
“I do not want to turn it into a political event,” Said Commissioner Sandra Patano. “The people are coming to look at the building.”
Regardless of the reason for denial of recognition by the commission, alliance leaders say they will move forward with plans for the service because of the significance of the occasion.
“This is important and…we need to pray for good government and we need to pray for the building,” said Kemp in a telephone interview late.
Kemp said the dedicatory prayer service will be held in the Rotunda ground floor of the capitol at 2:00 pm on January 9, which is an hour and a half after the official rededication service concludes. She also said the group could invite as many as 3,000 people, though not that many are expected to attend.