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City Council: Invocation or Moment of Silence?

Tonight, during a Special Called Meeting where we updated the rules of procedure for 2024, I proposed that we begin observing a moment of silence in place of the invocation at the start of each official meeting. It was approved by a 5-2 vote.

You might wonder why that would matter in a small, southern town like Russellville where a hefty majority of our citizens consider themselves Christians. But, that's the thing about majorities, they are only part of the picture. A big part, but not the whole. Together, majorities and minorities make up that whole, and no matter which group you fall in you deserve to have freedom of conscience.

I also see changes like these that may not affect me - or the council - directly as an exercise in being in someone else's shoes. Everyone has their own lived experiences. When I was elected my lived experience came with me, and my desire to be more aware of others tagged along. It's not easy to see things from someone else's view, but with practice you can be closer than you were before.

My reason for proposing we move to observing a moment of silence was a simple one - our community is diverse.

As representatives of our entire community, I find it imperative that we, as a council, foster an atmosphere that respects each person we represent by welcoming their engagement. We can't know all the road blocks making people feel alienated by their local government, but when we are made aware of one of those proverbial road blocks we need to address it.

Observing a moment of silence promotes an inclusive environment by allowing individuals of different religious backgrounds, agnostics, atheists, and those with diverse spiritual beliefs to reflect in their own personal way. That's the beauty of it - nothing is taken away from anyone, it simply allows everyone to come together, transcending religious or non-religious affiliations, promoting a spirit of commonality among our community.

It is my hope that 2024 sees a lot more people in the chairs at City Council meetings. If this change in procedure gets even one more person to become invested in what Russellville is up to, it was worth the adjustment.

Fun Fact: There are roughly 80 Christian churches in our city limits alone, putting it at around 375 people per church if the entire city showed up to Sunday service. Hopefully they don't all pick the same place to eat afterwards, though. 😬


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