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Mayors Prayer Breakfast Nearly Brought to Its Knees

| Community | May 9, 2019

To coincide with the annual National Day of Prayer, Joe Messina puts together the SCV Mayors Prayer Breakfast. Most years, the planning goes smoothly.

This was not one of those years.

From struggling to secure keynote speakers to finding a venue to problems with printing the program, Messina said he had more to deal with this year than in recent years.

“I had nothing, I had nothing, I had nothing,” he said. “It was quite interesting. At the last minute, everything kind of fell into place.”

The National Day of Prayer statutorily occurs the first Thursday in May, and the president is required by law to sign a proclamation encouraging Americans to pray on that day. Messina had long ago decided not to plan this event more than three months out because it gave more time for problems to occur. So, in February, he and The Diako Group, which put on the annual breakfast, worked on securing a keynote speaker.

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He first attempted to get Mike Lindell, inventor of My Pillow, an open-cell, poly-foam pillow design that has sold more than 41 million units but also has settled lawsuits relating to false-advertising and marketing claims. What drew Messina to Lindell was Lindell’s history of overcoming addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine through prayer.

His people confirmed, then told Messina that Lindell was going to be in Israel.

Then he tried to get Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who resigned in 2009 and later wrote a memoir, “Unplanned,” that was made into a movie.

Messina said her people confirmed, too, but Johnson’s OB-GYN nixed her traveling because of her pregnancy.

Instead, Messina secured the movie’s writer-producers, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman. He also tried to get syndicated columnist, Republican politician, author, and conservative political activist Star Parker, but she was already booked.

Messina said that every year, the program is the same: there’s breakfast, patriotic music, a Christian speaker and prayer. Messina tried to get the SCV Men of Harmony Chorus, but here wasn’t enough time to make that happen, he said. Then he remembered hearing a group sing Christmas songs in Urdu at the International Friendship Center. It was available.

There’s always a flag salute, and Messina usually entrusts a local William S. Hart Union High School District ROTC with doing the honors (Messina is a board member). But they were booked, so he turned to the local Knights of Columbus chapter.

Of course, a breakfast can’t happen without a site. Last year’s venue, Kelly’s Banquet Hall, lacked the kitchen to handle 300 hot breakfasts, so Messina turned to the Hyatt Regency.

The Hyatt had previously held the event and then declined to do it because groups complained and demonstrated seemingly every year. But Messina said the Hyatt had undergone a management change and “wanted to be part of the community.”

Everything was falling into place. Just one more thing: the program. Messina had been using the same Burbank-based printing company for many years, so he knew what to expect: Email the proofs by the Friday before, and they would be ready for him to pick up by the next Wednesday, the day before the event.

This time, after sending the proofs, he got an email confirming they would get to it in 48-72 business hours. At first, he thought it was just an automatic thank-you-for-your-order email, but something prompted him to call.

Good thing he did, for he learned the company had changed its policy in February. They don’t do work on weekends, and it would be two to three business days before it was approved by a human. The person offered to rush it so it could be done Thursday.

“You mean after the breakfast?” Messina responded.

He found an online outfit that was easy to deal with and inexpensive. He had the program by Wednesday.

By all accounts, he said, the breakfast went off without problems.

“Ultimately, it all came together,” he said. “Everyone was pleased with it.”

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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