Prayer breakfast returns for 38th year

Published 7:16 pm Friday, April 1, 2022

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The 38th annual Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast will be held at 7 a.m. Thursday, May 5, at The Liberty Center.

Tickets will go on sale Monday at the Suffolk Visitor Center, 524 N. Main St.

The breakfast, originally held in October during the Peanut Festival, is now held concurrently with the National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday in May.

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“Because of the importance of coming together for this event, and the great need for prayer in our country today more than ever for our families and our city, our state, our nation and the world, it is time to come together to thank God and to pray,” said organizer Dr. Bill Jackson.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Breakfast Group inaugurated the National Prayer Breakfast 70 years ago to “seek God’s guidance as well as to reaffirm their Faith in God, His plan and purposes.”

It continues to be held annually in Washington, hosted by members of Congress. Every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the event.

Also, Virginia state leaders have for many years met in Richmond for the annual Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast with the governor on the morning of the opening day of the Virginia General Assembly.  The national, state and local events are part of the National Prayer Breakfast movement. The Suffolk breakfast’s format is typically identical to that of the National Prayer Breakfast.

As with the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, the speaker and music for the Suffolk Leadership Prayer Breakfast are usually not announced in advance.

Speakers have included governors, lieutenant governors and state attorneys general, as well as Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity;  Steve Saint of the movie “End of the Spear”;  Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykins, undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Holly McClure, film producer;  Maurice Watkins, U.S. Olympic boxing coach; Iraq War heroes, who were honored on the program; Bill Fanos and Mark Ruppert, New York firefighters who responded to the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks; Lt. Jeffrey R. Vignery, co-pilot of EP-3 plane downed in China; David L. Cook; John Guest; Tony Evans; Bobby Hillin Jr., NASCAR driver; PGA champion Paul Azinger;  NFL coaching great Tom Landry; Gen. Dick Abel, past official of the U.S. Olympic Committee; Adolph Coors IV; Adm. Jerry Johnson, deputy chief of the Navy; Bill Bright; international leaders Mariam Ibraheem, imprisoned for her faith in Sudan, and Seong-Ho Ji with his story of escape from North Korea; deep undercover KGB spy Jack Barsky in 2020; and the story of the life and escape of Hien Pham in 2021.

“The 2022 audience is sure not to be disappointed with this year’s selection,” Jackson said.

Musicians who have participated have included Marilyn McCoo of 5th Dimension; Tara Dawn Christensen, former Miss America; Meghan Shanely, former Miss Virginia; Steve Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers; Staci Wallace, recording artist; Susie McEntire Luchsinger; Bob Carlisle; Wintley Phipps; Larnell Harris; Steve Green; Babie Mason; Anthony Campbell; Russ Taff, six-time Grammy Winner; Adam Crabb, the newest face of the Gaithers; David Phelps; blind singer-songwriter Marlana VanHoose, who brought the  Leadership Prayer Breakfast audience to their feet in applause; 2020 singer Sandye Whitfield; and renowned bass voice of the Gaither Vocal band, Todd Suttles, in 2021.

Attendees in prior years have included the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state senators and delegates, mayor, City Council members, school board chairman and members, school superintendent, Chamber of Commerce chairman, business leaders, military leaders, including the U.S. Joint Command – Suffolk, and student leaders from area high schools.

Tickets are $20 per person or $160 for tables of eight. The ticket venue, the Suffolk Visitor Center, is open daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. and can be reached at 757-514-4130 or

The Liberty Center is located on Godwin Boulevard at Centrebrooke Lane and Roman Road.

Businesses and leaders may purchase tables of 8 seats for $160.00 for customers and/or employees and constituents.  Individual tickets are available for $20. per person.

Because the breakfast usually sells out quickly, interested persons are encouraged to purchase their tickets early. Exact change is required if paying by cash. Tickets will not be available at the door.