Marysville residents will have more time to offer their thoughts on whether or not their city council should include a regular prayer before each meeting.

Marysville residents will have more time to offer their thoughts on whether or not their city council should include a regular prayer before each meeting.

In voting on the council's rules of procedure Thursday night, council tabled a rule that could add an invocation to the beginning of the public meetings. The issue will be reconsidered in two weeks.

At the previous council meeting, councilwoman Tracy Richardson introduced a couple of sample invocations that she had prepared in introducing the idea.

"Without prayer, we deny ourselves as a collective body to receive the assistance of the Almighty in the performance of our duty," Richardson wrote in the proposal. "I have to ask our city council, is it a prudent choice for us to deny the opportunity to receive assistance from God? We who truly seek to serve the good people of Marysville can choose to ask God to help us. I assert, that with the help of God, all things are possible and the welfare of our community is in the best of hands."

Council president John Gore offered an addendum to the request.

"I'd like to see in the rules the actual invocation, and make it clear the only folks who can lead the invocation are the seven members of council. "

Gore explained his reasoning. "I'm afraid if we open it up, it could be very controversial," he said.

The idea has been through some discussion in the council's public affairs committee. Committee chairwoman Deborah Groat read a dissenting statement.

Groat said she would vote against the proposal based on five points.

"No need exists to call upon God to be present or bless these proceedings. In my faith, God is omni-present, omniscient and all-powerful. To call upon God in an invocation is extraneous, and only offered for political posturing. Pretend prayer for political posturing is equally insulting to those of us who are deeply religious, and those of us for whom prayer is inconsequential. Point two any prayer so generalized as to be acceptable to the atheists or non-faithful of our city would be an insult to those of us who are truly faithful. Any prayer so watered down that it could be offered before city council meeting and be appreciated by non-Christians of this city would be a denigration of that which I hold dear. To those who would accuse me as 'has-been-done,' of holding a parochial, small-town personal view of my faith, in a globally, religiously tolerant, diverse world, I would respond thank you. To those would suggest that any prayer, however general and weak, is an improvement over no prayer at all, I would remind them that appearing to be religious does not improve one's abilities to make decisions for this city."

Groat continued with more points, and said her response is available in writing for any who want it.

In her closing comments, Richardson maintained that she believes allowing an invocation at the beginning of council sessions would be positive for the city.

"There is a huge historical precedent we are seeking to maintain," she said. "We this group of seven who are as individuals prayerful people, can benefit from gathering to invoke the assistance of God in the pursuit of our duties."

This issue will return to the council's public affairs committee.

UCHS director Steffen Baldwin (back) and an ASPCA volunteer helped to transfer one of the more than 360 dogs in a joint animal rescue on Feb. 22.