In a breakfast celebration held at the Humble Civic Center, hundreds of faith-filled Christians gathered to praise God through song and pray for fellow citizens in 14 different categories, including government, education and health care.

Controversy continues to surround the observance of the National Day of Prayer, with one side saying it constitutes government-backed religion and violates the constitutional separation of church and state, and the other side arguing the government too often attacks citizen rights in these matters, rather than protecting them.

Congressman Ted Poe was present via video and told those gathered, Were guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

The event at the Civic Center was part of a nationwide observance, and was covered by local TV stations, radio and newspapers. The Humble area observance included breakfast foods catered by Starbucks, Panera Bread, Jasons Deli, Chick-Fil-A and Lennys Sub Shop. The prayer, led by a Whos Who of community leaders, was followed by corporate prayer, and a prayer-balloon release.

I came here because I love the Lord, said participant Cynthia Garcia, who brought her young child to the event. I know that I serve as my sons example of faith, so I made coming here a priority.

Community leaders offering support of the National Day of Prayer included:

Mike Byers, president of the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, who prayed for local businesses and employees as they go about their work; Donnie McMannes, mayor of the City of Humble, who prayed for wise governmental leadership; Rev. Scott Jones, pastor of Grace Church, who reminded church members they were called to be fishers of men and not keepers of the aquarium; Gary Warman, Humble chief of police, who offered blessings for police, firemen and hospital workers; and Mike Sullivan, councilman for City of Houston-District E, who prayed citizens accept responsibility to choose elected officials wisely.

Next, Dr. Mary Cavnar Johnson prayed God would guide those who work with the sick, while Rev. Tom Billings, executive director of Union Baptist Church, prayed for the media. He said they had tremendous power to create culture and shape opinion. He prayed those responsible for a growing darkness would repent. Dr. Guy Sconzo, superintendent of Humble ISD, gave thanks for the blessing of children and reminded those gathered, they are all teachers. Jay Mincks, executive vice president of marketing and sales of Administaff, prayed for families and their health, wealth and happiness. Rev. Mike May, senior pastor of Pipeline Church, prayed for todays youth, who are under attack.

Also taking the microphone was Dan Huberty, Humble ISD board president, who prayed God would guide and protect the community and help those who have yet to accept God. Chaplin Robin Robinson, U.S. Army Reserve, prayed for protection of the military and strength and comfort for their families. Dr. Doug Stringer of Somebody Cares America/International prayed for orphans and widows around the world.

The audience participated in corporate prayer led by Rev. Tom Battle and the entire audience moved outside for the prayer-balloon release.

Other dignitaries including Pastor Oliver Stillwell, Dayspring Church; Dr. Ross Cullins, Solid Rock Baptist Church; and Rev Cary Baker, The Point Christian Outreach, provided welcoming remarks, open prayers and led the pledge. Music was provided by Grace Church.

I came to exult and lift up Jesus, said audience member Victor Holley. Ive been shot, stabbed and broken up, but the Lord has watched over me even before I knew him. I came to pray he continues to draw others to him.