"Bakersfield ... a city united in prayer." That's the motto and that's what I see when I look at the Bakersfield Prayer Breakfast. ] Droves of people joining together in one place, once a year, to talk to God and ask his blessing on leaders and on our community. Am I missing something? Is that a bad thing?

I am told that for the past 32 years, this event has been taking place. As a local pastor, I get to see the fruit that comes from this prayer breakfast. I have numerous people in my church that attend this event and then go out to serve in the community to make it a more loving and prosperous place.

I'm afraid that we are allowing a couple of people with different views distract us from the "fruit" of this time together ("Prayer breakfast must be inclusive," Mike Miller, Community Voices, Jan. 23, et al.). Is it amazing to think that we have countless churches and denominations coming together? When does that ever happen? We should embrace this type of thing with open arms!

Is it a Christian event? I don't know. I don't come because someone says it is a Christian event -- I come because I am a follower of Jesus and I believe in the power of prayer. My prayers are prayed to Jesus Christ, but that doesn't mean that I am forcing my neighbor at my table to do the same. He or she can pray however they want -- that's their First Amendment right.

That same amendment not only allows us to have these "free speech" discussions, which can then be published because of the "freedom of the press," but I am allowed to pray in this great country because of my "freedom of religious expression." I thank God for that!

This year, I have been told that the keynote speakers are going to be challenging the group to "live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Bill and Laurie Bolthouse have had a call on their lives to expose the sex trafficking of women and children that happens here in our community and around the world. Wow! A challenge for everyone from everywhere to "re-abolish" slavery. Let's not miss the fruit, the unity, the encouragement, and the Hodel's cinnamon rolls! See you on Thursday!

Rev. Kent A. Pedersen

Olive Knolls Church