Editor’s note: At a time when the Kenai Borough Assembly endures prayers mockingly offered by Satanists, atheists and Pastafarians, it is interesting to recall how Alaskans prayed at the highest levels of government just 64 years ago.
On Nov. 8, 1955, Alaska Territorial Governor Frank Heintzleman asked Rev. Roy Ahmaogak, of Wainwright, to offer an invocatory prayer to start of the Constitutional Convention, which resulted in Alaska becoming the 49th state on Jan. 3, 1959.
Ahmaogak’s prayer is distinctly Christian – invoking the name of “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This tradition of opening each day with prayer from local clergy continued throughout the 76 days of the convention.
Ahmaogak, the first Alaska Native to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church, is credited with translating the Bible into the Inuit dialect. Below is the prayer he offered before delegates at the opening of the Constitutional Convention. An audio recording can be heard by clicking the link below.
REVEREND ROY AHMAOGAK: “Let us unite in prayer. Almighty and Everlasting God, who by Thy providence didst lead our forefathers to this good land wherein they found liberty and freedom to worship Thee, we beseech Thee ever to guide our nation in the way of Thy truth and peace so that we may never fail in the blessing which Thou has promised to that people whose God is the Lord. Grant, we beseech Thee, unto our Governor, and to those men who sit with him in authority, Thy gracious presence and blessing. Enlighten them with wisdom from above and especially in establishing our Constitution. May we ever seek to comply with Thy requirements, and what does the Lord require of you but “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Thy God.” Deliver us, our Father from error, pride and prejudice, and so order all these doings here that Thy kingdom may be advanced. Hear this our prayer, 0 God, and may what is accomplished in these meetings be in accordance with Thy Holy will. For we ask these things in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Click here to listen to an audio recording of Rev. Ahmaogak’s prayer. The governor’s invitation for Ahmaogak to offer a prayer begins at the one 1:55 mark of Tape A1.