A TRADITION of PRAYER and CELEBRATION
The King County Prayer Breakfast is an historic event that takes place annually. The purpose of this event is to unify as a region, celebrating what God has done in our community and praying alongside our leaders for the current challenges we face.
During the 1930's, Seattle went through a time of intense political and social turmoil. In April 1935 a group of 19 civic leaders, led by Abram Vereide, founder of Seattle Goodwill Industries, met together at the Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. They gathered together to face a critical situation in the life of their city. In attendance was Seattle City Councilman Arthur B. Langlie, who later became Mayor of Seattle (1938-1941) and then Governor of Washington state (1941-45, 1949-57). These leaders continued to meet regularly, humbly seeking God. As they did, a new vision and purpose for living was recognized: To become agents of reconciliation in personal, business, civic, and community life.
By 1937 - just two years later - 209 prayer breakfast groups were taking place throughout Seattle. The idea of these breakfast groups was to bring together civic and business leaders informally to share a meal, study the Bible, develop relationships of trust and support, and to learn together how to live out key principles of Jesus. As friendships grew, a concern for the poor and oppressed developed among them, and they partnered together to address these challenges.
Vereide traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest (and later around the country) to help develop similar groups. As he did, he began to see a relationship between the political and industrial leadership of America and how it is connected to social and economic problems. Hedetermined that in order to remedy the latter, it was necessary to redeem the former. After nine years at Goodwill in Seattle, he was invited to Boston in 1931 to be Associate General Superintendent of the Goodwill Industries of America. Amidst ongoing economic challenges, Franklin D. Roosevelt, then governor of New York, invited Vereidi to a conference concerning a social relief program for that state. Vereidi emphasized that what the New York needed more than anything else was spiritual change. When Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, he formed an advisory body for his incoming administration to discuss national policy. They shared a mutual concern to save America from the political and economic breakdown that was before all citizens. They reviewed the history of America and pointed out that, at that time, there had been 19 depressions and that every single one was caused by disobedience to divine laws, neglect of God and the spiritual life, and that what had given rise to economic recovery and social welfare was the quickening of a life surrendered to God. As these prayer groups multiplied and spread, the goal continued to be to bring reconciliation and healing to all areas of life through the power of Jesus.
This mission continues today. The King County Prayer Breakfast is governed by a “prayer and planning team” that meets year-round to pray for and plan the event. These volunteers include marketplace and civic influencers from around the county. The vision of the event remains the same as when it first began: To lift our region and its leaders in prayer as we gather together, in unity, to seek the welfare of our region, to reconcile our differences, and to better love and care for those who live here.
A SEATTLE STORY
The 2016 prayer breakfast featured this short video, produced by and directed by Andy Toles, a local attorney.
It reminds those who live here that our broader community foundation - not just Seattle - but for King County and the entire Pacific Northwest region - is a strong, shared foundation that is marked by:
A vision to be a positive impact on the world.