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By Erin Hemme Froslie, Published January 11 2003

Takin' it to the streets: Children march to capitol with prayers

Children who attend United Methodist churches across the state have compiled "Dear God" prayers for state legislators.

The children will present the prayer books during the first Children's March, which will be held today in Bismarck. The march and the prayer books are intended to raise awareness of children's issues.

Receiving a lesson in faith and civics, the children will march from McCabe United Methodist Church to the Heritage Center on the capitol grounds.

There they will give prayer books to legislators and Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Children of all ages drew and wrote the prayers that ask legislators to care about the poor and children.

"We're trying to put a name and a face on the issues of children," says the Rev. Michael Coyner, bishop of the Dakotas Area of the United Methodist Church. "We know our legislators care about children, but this will help remind them of those issues."

Church leaders expect at least 100 children to gather for the march, which is being organized by the United Methodist Church Dakotas Conference.

Eighty prayers -- one for each day of the legislative session -- are included in the book. The prayers range from thanking God for sandwiches to asking for safe schools and peace in Afghanistan.

The following prayer was written by 10-year-old Cody of West Fargo: "Dear God, thank you for all the children in the world. Help them all get better if they are sick and hurt. Take care of them, God. In Jesus name we pray. Amen."

"We hope state folks will use them," Coyner says. "The prayers of children might be a good way to start their day."

Daily sessions in the Senate and House of Representatives open with prayer led by either clergy or a member of that chamber.

Jaeger says the children's prayers will mean a lot for those who work in state government.

"They perceive that this part of government is very important," he says. "Their support -- through their prayers -- is essential. It doesn't matter that they're not old enough to vote."

It's also a way for children to learn how their faith and values can influence government action, he says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534

If you go ...

-What: Children's March, for children who attend United Methodist churches across North Dakota.

-When: 11:30 a.m. today.

-Where: McCabe United Methodist Church in Bismarck.

-Details: At 1 p.m., children will march from the church to the Heritage Center on the state capitol grounds, where they'll present books of their homemade prayers and illustrations to legislators and Secretary of State Al Jaeger.