Multi-faith prayer service kicks off Kapszukiewicz's weekend of inaugural events

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    Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, center, with his family from left: his daughter Emma Kapszukiewicz, his wife Sarah Kapszukiewicz, and his son Will during an interfaith prayer service called "Empowered Through Unity" at the Warren AME Church as part of Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz's inaugural events on January 20, 2018.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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  • Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz pledged to work for the common good of all Toledoans, act with dignity and respect, and strive to make the city a place where all people can find justice at a multifaith prayer service that kicked off a weekend of inaugural events.

    Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz addresses the guests during his mayoral inaugural ball.
    Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz addresses the guests during his mayoral inaugural ball.

    In all, 22 faith leaders gathered Saturday at Warren AME Church on Collingwood Boulevard to pray for and bless the new administration and the city. About 120 people, including members of the Kapszukiewicz administration, city employees, city council members, and former mayors, were in attendance.

    “It is important to me that we start off with a recognition that Toledo is strong because of the faith of its citizens, and it’s strong because of the diversity of those faiths,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

    The service was filed with songs, prayers, and readings from many faiths, including Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, and more. The mayor and his family sat in the front and center pew alongside city council President Matt Cherry and his wife Nicole. Two rows back sat former mayors Carty Finkbeiner, Donna Owens, and Mike Bell.

    Ms. Owens said she’d like to see a multifaith event at least once a year.

    “To get the faiths together and talk about the issues and pray about them I think is a good thing,” she said.

    VIDEO: Multi-faith prayer service

    Mr. Kapszukiewicz participated in a call-and-response litany with the Rev. Donald Perryman, senior pastor at Center of Hope community Baptist Church, who spearheaded the service.

    He said Mayor Kapszukiewicz is taking on leadership at a time where the nation is experiencing division and discord, but Toledo must unite.

    “The purpose of today’s event is very simple: to show through our presence, our words, and our prayers, that Toledo will be a place where peace and healing will be found,” Reverend Perryman said.

    Reverend Perryman called on the city’s leaders, faith community, and general public to show solidarity, and to embrace the city’s diversity now and into the future.

    “No person in Toledo should be an other,” he said. “We all, regardless of income, ethnicity, race, culture, age, faith, sexual preference, or gender identify, all of us share the same dreams for our family, our community, and ourselves.”

    West Toledo resident Johnie Johnson said she was happy to see so many faiths included in the service and that she would like to see similar events happen more often in the city. She said it sends a message of inclusion, and that’s something she hopes the new mayor will stick to.

    “I hope he’ll be a man of all people and all areas of town,” she said.

    Ahead of the service, Mr. Kapszukiewicz repeated a call to the community that he has been saying since he took office on Jan. 2.

    “Every Toledoan has to have a hand in the city we’re trying to build,” he said. “I felt the best way to drive that point home at the beginning of this weekend is to unite around something that so many Americans find important, and that is their own faith.”

    The inaugural weekend continued Saturday evening with a VIP event at the Heights rooftop bar of Renaissance Toledo Downtown Hotel, where a $300 ticket available at admitted one guest to an hour-long reception with the mayor, a complimentary open bar, and hors d’oeuvres — and the inaugural ball that followed, plus two drink tickets there and “heavy hors d’oeuvres and desserts,” with live music and dancing, according to the website. A $175 ticket admitted one guest to the ball itself, with two drink tickets, heavy hors d’oeuvres, music, and dancing.

    Several guests wore black tie or gowns. Most were attired in business suits or cocktail dresses, mingling as they held in one hand a plate laden with coconut shrimp and prime rib or cannoli and lemon meringue tarts, and a drink in the other.

    Shortly after 8 p.m., Richard Cordray, a Democratic candidate for governor, offered the crowd of several hundred a ringing endorsement of the new mayor as "a public servant that I have admired, both close up and from afar.’’ He said that even before Mr. Kapszukiewicz became a candidate for Lucas County treasurer, he asked to see how Mr. Cordray ran his office as then-Franklin County treasurer.

    "As mayor of Toledo, he will get things done for this city that otherwise would not happen, if not for his drive and his vision," Mr. Cordray said.

    Mr. Kapszukiewicz recognized family members -- and Katy Crosby, the newly named chief of staff, and deputy chiefs of staff Karen Poore and Abby Arnold.

    To whoops and cheers, he said they “are part of the team that is talented , optimistic, professional, maybe a little younger than what we might be used to in this town, maybe a little more female than we might be used to in this town.’’

    He said the team will “err on the side of action”.

    “This team is going to do things. We’re going to try things. In the course of doing that, we’re going to make mistakes. We're going to learn from them,” he said.

    “We’re going to do what Toledoans have done for 181 years, we’re going to pick ourselves up off the ground, dust ourselves off, learn from our mistakes, and try something else the next day.”

    Tom Susor, 68, a former Oregon city councilman, said Mr. Kapszukiewicz “is true to his word,” adding that Toledo needs to succeed for surrounding communities to succeed.

    Will Lucas, 37, of West Toledo, applauded the youthful energy of the administration.

    “People are trying to get behind something like that,” said Mr. Lucas, a business owner and member of the transition team.

    The evening wound down with a young professionals event, where guests at $75 each or two for $100 were to be admitted after 9 p.m. and allowed two drink tickets and bar snacks. The after-hours gathering was to feature a disc jockey and dancing.

    To conclude the weekend, on Sunday the Kapszukiewicz family is hosting a free “family fun day” from 1-4:30 p.m. at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library downtown. There will be live entertainment, health screenings, and interactive booths with the Toledo Zoo, Children’s Theatre Workshop, Toledo Museum of Art, and others.

    Children will also be encouraged to add their own artistic touch to a mural that will be hung in the mayor’s administrative offices downtown.

    Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.