To Have Invocation at City Council Meetings Resurfaces 23 May 18

Whether or not to have an invocation at the start of Hutchinson City Council meetings resurfaced at Tuesday night’s meeting.

A proposed ordinance, that would have removed the invocation and added a moment of silence instead, failed to move forward on a 3-2 vote.

Mayor Gary Forcier along with Councilors Mary Christensen and Chad Czmowski voted in favor of rejecting the change.

Councilors Steve Cook and John Lofdahl voted in favor of adding a moment of silence instead of the invocation.

In April, Councilor Cook asked that the council consider dropping the invocation, saying he felt the Pledge of Allegiance was more appropriate to open meetings because it has a civic foundation and also recognizes God and country. Councilor John Lofdahl also had concerns, in that the rotation of Clergy offering the invocation did not include non-Christians.

At that meeting, Councilor Cook made a motion to deny moving forward with dropping the invocation because a challenge was put to the Hutchinson Ministerial Association that an effort be made that the group be more inclusive on who is invited to do the invocation.

Then, on May 8th, the council received a letter from the Ministerial Association stating that the group is a Christian organization, not an inter-faith organization, and are volunteers who, among other things, volunteer to offer the invocation and council meetings. The letter went on to say they would be willing to leave spots open for others to offer the invocation, but it’s not the groups role to facilitate lining up others.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Councilor Cook said he understood and respected that position, and that’s why he brought the issue back to the council.

While the proposed change did fail, Councilor Lofdahl requested that city staff look at drafting suggestions on alternate ways of scheduling the invocation.

City Administrator Matt Jaunich also suggested that a formal policy should be written for how the people who give the invocation are selected.

As it is now, scheduling is under an informal agreement with the Ministerial Association.

The invocation began at Hutchinson City Council meetings in 1966.