SUMMERDALE — The Baldwin EMC Training Center was the setting for the third annual Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce prayer breakfast May 3, with almost 200 people in attendance for the 6:45 a.m. breakfast and program. The breakfast, which …
SUMMERDALE — The Baldwin EMC Training Center was the setting for the third annual Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce prayer breakfast May 3, with almost 200 people in attendance for the 6:45 a.m. breakfast and program. The breakfast, which included bacon, sausage, eggs, grits, fruit and pastry, was catered by Aunt Sarah’s Bakery, Deli and Catering of Robertsdale.
CBCC Executive Director Pam Schaar welcomed those in attendance and the Presentation of Colors was by the Robertsdale High School Navy Junior ROTC. Ruthie Campbell, committee chair, led the Pledge of Allegiance to the American and Christian flags and Bill Wade sang the National Anthem a Capella.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack, who initiated the annual prayer breakfast, gave the opening prayer and blessing.
SBCC 2007 Chairman of the Board Dennis Stastka sang “We Want America Back” and introduced the keynote speaker, retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Al Blankenship.
Blankenship’s 31-year military career took him to Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Germany and Kuwait. He also served in Al Kuit and Fallujah, Iraq during the second Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He is presently employed as Chief of Staff for ICF International, a company that partners with government and commercial clients to deliver consulting services and technology in the energy, environment, transportation, social programs, defense and homeland security markets.
Blankenship’s personal stories of leading young Marines in combat in Iraq often moved the audience to laughter and to tears.
With stories like his assertion that the Marine Corps is a Biblical institution, everyone laughed.
“In the Bible, Gideon raised a small army against unsurmountable odds and succeeded. That is the first evidence of what you can do with a few good men,” he said, as did a story about his superior officer getting trapped in a primitive outhouse during bombing of the area.
“I heard a voice saying, ‘Don’t tell them I died in here. Tell them I died in battle!’” he recalled.
His stories of “fallen warriors” and riding in a military C-130 with their bodies and discussing why the flight is called the “angel flight” with a group of young soldiers, moved many to tears.
“There are a lot of people in our world that need prayer but nobody needs prayer more than these young men and women who have seen combat. When you pray, pray for those warriors facing combat and also pray for those warriors who have returned. God made an amazing promise — one day, there will be no war. When that day comes, when we have no war, that will be a glorious day,” he said.
The Rev. Ron Nunn gave the closing prayer and then five area ministers prayed for specific segments of the community.
The Rev. Jeff Hunter, Grace Fellowship Baptist Church offered prayer for the churches; the Rev. Mitch Nelson, Bethel Baptist, prayed for our communities; the Rev. John Schell, Harvest Church, prayed for the nation; Loxley United Methodist Church pastor, the Rev. Jim Batchelor offered prayer for the military and the Rev. Margaret Shepard, St. John’s Episcopal Church prayed for the schools.