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Father Clem Davis, left, of St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church, and Father Stephen Benet, right, of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, meet with Mike Pence at the Indiana Statehouse before Pence's inauguration as governor Monday. Benet was also Davis' predecessor at St. Bartholomew. PHOTO BY JOE HARPRING
Newly sworn-in Gov. Mike Pence stepped into the Indiana Statehouse meditation room, on the fourth floor, shortly before 12:30 p.m. Monday as about a dozen clergymen stood in a circle around the seated Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.
One clergyman stood behind her, a hand on her shoulder, his voice in the sing-song cadence of prayer.
A handful of clergymen already had stood behind Ellspermann to ask God to help her with anything from a prosperous and productive relationship with the state to stoking the state’s entrepreneurial spirit and successfully leading the department of agriculture.
Pence stood for a moment behind Ellspermann and waited for the prayer to be finished, when Ray Martin, chairman of the Statehouse Chapel Committee, motioned for him to encroach further into the place of worship as a soft light filtered through the stained glass windows.
Pence took a seat, three clergyman stood behind him, and each placed a hand on his shoulders. One after the other, they raised their voices in prayer.
One prayer called for the governor to find rest, comfort and peace in Christ and asked the Lord to provide the governor with wisdom as he faces the office’s challenges. As some people used their smartphone cameras to capture the moment, others merely stood silently nearby, heads bowed.
Some clergymen exclaimed “Yes” and “Uh huh” in support for the prayers that were being spoken. Another clergyman asked God that the governor’s family be brought together even more through the upcoming trials and tribulations.
A few minutes later, Pence thanked the clergy for their prayers as he got up to leave, and they told him they would continue to pray, that day and in the future.
The ceremony mirrored a prayer meeting in which Gov. Mitch Daniels participated eight years ago after his first inauguration, Martin said. The Chapel Committee has existed for 40 years, and it conducts weekly services.
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