CARBONDALE — It's close to 600 days that the state of Illinois has been without a budget, and some in the faith community think they have an answer: the power of prayer.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, members of the Illinois Conference of Churches, representing 13 member denominations, plan to hold a rally and prayer service at the state capitol. The Rally and Inter-religious Prayer Service is set for 1:30 to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in the State Capitol Rotunda.

Organizers are inviting people from all faith groups, public education administrators and faculty, social service agency employees and all citizens of the state to support this event.

After the rally, members of the Conference plan to deliver letters to the governor and leadership in the House and Senate, asking them to reach a compromise on the budget.

One of those planning to attend from this area is Father Bob Flannery, head of the St. Francis Xavier Church in Carbondale. Flannery is also a member of the Illinois Conference of Churches, representing the Belleville Diocese.

"It’s just incomprehensible that the two sides can’t come to a compromise," Flannery said. "They are going to have to give a little bit and come up with a solution that serves the people of our state.”

He is also the past president of the board for Good Samaritan Ministries — which provides shelter and food for those needing it — and said he's seeing up-close the impact the budget stagnation has on organizations like Good Sam's and the Women's Center.

"Things are really far behind where they can’t plan and departments are being closed (in these and other social service agencies)," Flannery said.

Requesting corporate prayer

Flannery said he believes in prayer and has seen it work.

He's asking not just Christians but people from all faith walks to join in the prayer that day — and even if they can't make it to Springfield on Thursday, are asked to pray at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

They are also being asked to pray for the state's leaders and a budget compromise at their upcoming worship services.

"(They can join in) asking that God help us in this situation so that we can try to make a difference and help our state," Flannery said.

Those planning to go to Springfield are asked to arrive by 1 p.m. Thursday so they can pass through security checks.

For more information, visit the Illinois Conference of Churches, online, at http://illinoisconferenceofchurches.org; people can also contact Flannery at St. Francis Xavier at 618.457.4556.

stephanie.esters@thesouthern.com

618-351-5805

On Twitter: @scribeest

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Reporter

Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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