The Mission council meetings usually begin with the Pledge of Allegiance right after the call to order. Wednesday night, after calling the meeting to order, Schowengerdt took a moment before asking the audience to stand for the pledge and said a brief prayer. He asked “God to bless this meeting, lead us and guide us…” The new mayor, who is a practicing Catholic, said it was a matter of personal faith and he invoked the name of Jesus in his closing. “I need all the help I can get,” he said after the meeting.
Showengerdt said that the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding prayers at council meetings contributed to his decision to begin with the prayer. He did not ask members of the council or the audience to join him in the prayer. Some councilors seemed surprised at the new method of opening the meetings. The prayer lasted approximately nine seconds.
The new mayor was elected on April 1 and took office at the April council meeting. That meeting, though, was opened by outgoing Mayor Laura McConwell and adjourned by Schowengerdt. Wednesday night was Schowengerdt’s first opportunity to call a council meeting to order.
The supreme court decision, which came earlier this month, said city councils could have a prayer at the meeting, even if the prayer favored one brand of religion.