More than a dozen Sussex County elected officials, many who were sworn in later that day, attended a prayer breakfast Jan. 8 seeking some divine guidance as they begin another year.
Hosted by Crossroad Community Church near Georgetown, the event featured prayers for state and county elected officials, songs from the church praise team and a message from newly elected Rep. Tim Dukes, R-Laurel, who is pastor of Central Worship Center in Laurel.
If the last name sounds familiar, it is in Sussex County circles. His father, Dale Dukes, served on Sussex County Council for more than 20 years. He couldn't attend the event because he was leading a church missions trip to Jamaica.
Opening the prayer breakfast, the Rev. Rick Betts of Crossroad said it's important to pray. “It's our sincere hope the Lord will help guide you in your lives,” he said to officials gathered in the large audience.
Master of ceremonies Dan Gaffney, a radio talk show host at WXDE, said the focus should not be on political parties or affiliations. He said it was infinitely more important to put the focus on the Lord. He offered his personal cell phone number to those who might want to discuss a pathway to enlightenment.
Dukes, who has been involved in the church since his teen years, said he has contemplated a run at public office for 20 years. He said the wheels were put into motion when former Rep. Biff Lee announced his retirement in March 2012.
But first, he said, he had to overcome a personal struggle with the issue of separation of church and state and holding public office as a pastor.
Dukes said two things happened that eased his mind. He learned that more than half of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had seminary degrees and then he received even more validation from a comment made by Vice President Joe Biden during last year's debate. “He said that his religion defined who he was. If it's good enough for the vice president, it's good enough for me,” Dukes said. “My faith defines who I am. I want to take it to the next level to affect people in a positive manner.”
He said it's the goal and hope of all elected officials gathered in the room to go about doing good things.