It is not often that we hear good, positive news coming out of the State Capitol. In my fourteen years of service in the Mississippi Legislature, it is oftentimes the hyper-partisan issues that rule the day and get the media coverage. I have played a very active role in many of these issues and am proud of my participation in them. Whether it be the Voter Identification Initiative or Sunshine Legislation for the Attorney General’s Office or multiple Pro-Life bills and Immigration Reform legislation (which I worked on as Judiciary A Chairman) or even helping get Mississippi’s fiscal house in order through Inventory Tax Reform and limiting the bond package this year (in my capacity of Finance Chairman); I have worked hard to promote those ideals and beliefs that I hold important to me.

However, when you look at the challenges facing Mississippians today and in the future, many of the ills that we attempt to combat through legislation can only be solved at a very spiritual level. As a believer, I feel that it is only through a strong Christian faith and prayer that we are able to see past our own petty differences among Legislators and state officials to get things accomplished at the State Capitol for the greater good of all our citizens. That is why I am so proud to be a part of the Statewide Prayer and Ministry Foundation. This is a group of Christian believers who have worked together this past session to meet on a regular basis for the singular purpose of praying together for our State and specifically for our statewide and legislative officials as well as our judges across the State of Mississippi.

This past session we had a variety of strong Christian speakers from various fields of interest who gave of their time at lunch every-other-week to speak to us at the Galloway United Methodist Church. These speakers and singers included persons of varied ethnic and political backgrounds. We had African-American pastors and guest singers who shared their talents and testimonies. Other speakers included the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, William Waller, Jr.; the Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, Philip Gunn; Head Football Coach for the Ole Miss Rebels, Hugh Freeze; President of Mississippi State University, Dr. Mark Keenum; the quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi, Austin Davis; and the Gospel Singing Group, The Florida Boys; along with numerous members of the State Legislature (House and Senate, black and white) who led in prayer for our State of Mississippi at the multiple luncheons.

We have had great participation from members of both parties and from the Statewide elected officials and our Courts. We could not have accomplished this wonderful kick-off to this ministry without the help of so many people but I have to give special recognition to the Lieutenant Governor, Tate Reeves, and our Chairman of the Foundation, Rev. Ben B. James, Jr., who met together prior to the beginning of this year’s session to develop the blueprint for what has grown into a very beneficial outlet for prayer and ministry that has begun in the Capital of Jackson, Mississippi, but which we hope will spread to all corners of the Magnolia State. Their vision for Christian growth We are encouraging small groups to meet together from the various entities which have participated in the prayer luncheons so that they can dig deeper into the Scriptures and grow their faith together. I have to also thank Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Treasurer Lynn Fitch, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Attorney General Jim Hood, Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith, Chief Justice William Waller, Jr., Insurance Commissioner, Mike Chaney and various other statewide officials who have assisted the group through their participation in the luncheons, assistance in organizing and service on the Advisory Board, speaking to our luncheons and their encouragement throughout the session.

It is in difficult times economically, socially and otherwise, that we have to look beyond ourselves and strive to focus on the most important things. As my friend, and our Ministry Chairman, Ben James, Jr., often quotes Peter Marshall, the celebrated Scottish-born Chaplain of the US Senate back in the late 1940’s who famously stated: “Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”

Sen. Joey Fillingane