A trip of a lifetime

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It was an opportunity of a lifetime – that’s how Pastor Ed Glaize described his recent trip to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Glaize, a pastor at First United Methodist Church of Brewton for the last nine years, said he received his invitation in December for the February event.

“When they said it was Sen. (Jeff) Sessions on the phone, I thought it was one of those calls asking me to go to the polls and vote because it was the same day as our special election,” Glaize said. “But it was really him on the phone.”

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Sessions asked Glaize and his wife, Alecia, to represent the community at the breakfast, which is held annually on the first Thursday in February. It was a trip the couple gladly made, Glaize said.

The breakfast, held in the Hilton’s International Ballroom, is typically attended by some 3,500 guests, including international invitees from more than 100 countries. It is hosted by members of Congress and is organized on their behalf by The Fellowship Foundation, a conservative Christian organization. The event is designed to be a forum for the political, social and business elite to assemble and build relationships. Every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the annual event. Glaize said not only did President and Mrs. Obama attend, so did Vice-President Biden and a wide assortment of other political dignitaries.

“It was great to see that prayer doesn’t hold to party lines,” Glaize said. “There’s really more congeniality in Washington than we get to see in the news. Everyone there said that they may disagree, but that they love and support each other; that they make every effort to see unity in Christ.”

Glaize said the president spoke on religious freedom that night.

“He said religious freedom is the key to all freedom,” Glaize said. “He stood up front and gave his testimony about Christ’s faith.”

Glaize said that he was initially scheduled to deliver the invocation to the Senate on Friday morning; however, scheduling issues prevented it.

Glaize said during the trip, he learned that Senate members pray as a group on Wednesday evenings, while House members hold prayer sessions on Thursday evenings.

On Friday evening, the couple, Sen. and Mrs. Sessions, and other Alabama representatives were hosted at a banquet. During their trip, the Glaizes met with Brewton native Dot Swinson, who serves as executive secretary of the Senate majority leader.

As “thank you” gifts, the Glaizes handed out wooden cutting boards of the state, with their hometown marked for recognition, and Blueberry Festival cookbooks.

“I was thinking that Dot had a hand in our invitation, but she said no,” Glaize said. “It was an honor to be asked and an honor to attend. It was an awesome experience. I still pinch myself that I got to do it.”

For fun, the couple was given tours of historical landmarks and personal tours of the capital, the Library of Congress and the National Archives.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the couple caught a glimpse of famed baseball legend, Henry “Hank” Aaron, while on the plane. Glaize said Aaron was traveling from Atlanta to a speaking engagement in Washington. It was the eve of his 80th birthday.