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Some elected officials and ministers have realized when they work together many problems can be solved in the communities of Indiana.

The annual Prayer and Praise Breakfast offers an opportunity for the two groups to strategize grassroots solutions and enjoy dynamic preaching in the process.

This year’s breakfast, which is sponsored by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC), will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Hotel downtown, 31 W. Ohio St.

State Rep. Vernon G. Smith, D-Gary, noted that since the first Prayer and Praise Breakfast was held in 1996, the event has become an important gathering of legislators, ministers and other leaders who are active in the state’s African-American community.

“The Indiana General Assembly has a tremendous impact on the daily lives of African-Americans throughout the state,” Smith said. “By bringing ministers together with legislators, state lawmakers are able to hear their concerns and they are able to take the message of participation back to their congregations.”

Smith added that by being active in the restoration of their communities, people can best protect their “God-given” rights and live up to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement that “Freedom is never voluntarily given by oppressors,” but must be demanded by the oppressed.

“Let us hear Dr. King’s words echo in our hearts and minds as we unceasingly demand equality, justice and opportunity for all,” Smith said.

One man who has been praised for excellent use of his “God-given” rights and talents is the featured speaker for the breakfast, Pastor Willie Campbell.

As pastor of St. James Ministries Church of God in Christ in Chicago, Campbell has quickly become one of the most prominent pastors in the Midwest during the Internet age. Many viewers outside the Chicago area have heard his sermons via television, radio, You Tube and Streaming Faith.com.

Campbell, who became pastor of St. James Ministries upon the death of his father, Bishop Jessie Campbell, preaches with a commitment to strengthen his listeners and “develop their spiritual relationship with the only true and wise God.”

As a solutions-oriented minister, he has been recognized for expanding a ministry that “reaches the total man” through outreach programs such as substance abuse counseling, Saturday school, food and clothes drives, education initiatives with Chicago Public Schools and community economic revitalization programs.

Campbell is also a motivational speaker and his wife Lori is known nationally as founder of the Women of Excellence (W.O.E.) ministry, which meets the spiritual and practical needs of women and their children through various service initiatives.

Willie Campbell has also become a minister that many in Chicago call on during moments of tragedy because of his uplifting and straightforward speaking style.

In one situation, a teenager named Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, a gang member who allegedly killed a young girl while shooting at rivals, was himself killed by associates who feared he would implicate them during an investigation of the murder.

Parents brought their children to Sandifer’s funeral to view his body and see the stitches from his fatal head wounds in an effort to scare youngsters enough to motivate them to make smart choices.

“Take a good look,” said Campbell, who presided over the service. “Cry if you will, but make up your mind that you will never let your life end like this.”

Tickets for the IBLC Prayer and Praise Breakfast featuring Pastor Willie Campbell are $20 per person or $100 for a table of 10. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-382-9842 ext. 9991. For more information call (317) 232-9991. Seating is limited, so register soon.

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