History of the Ottawa Civic Prayer Breakfast
Fulfilling a longing in the heart of Wayne Webster, the Ottawa Civic Prayer Breakfast (OCPB) began in 2009. For years, Wayne received emails about breakfasts in other cities and something tugged in his spirit. One day, Wayne and Jerry Sherman went on a mission trip to Spain, where they met a city mayor. This mayor wanted to come to Ottawa to meet with our mayor. Wayne, thinking about how to go about this request, asked and received a meeting with the then Mayor, Larry O’Brien. At the meeting, Jerry Sherman and Wayne talked about the Christian Embassy activities, of which Jerry was the Executive Director. During that meeting, the Mayor mentioned that he had been provided a copy of a Christian book called One Goal. Wayne asked if he would like to meet the author, Gerry Organ, and the Mayor said yes. Subsequently Gerry, Jerry, Larry Brune and Wayne, sensed the leading of the Lord to pull a team together to plan a Civic Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa.
Paul McKechnie initially co-chaired the first committee with Wayne. Gerry, who had previous experience in organizing a breakfast in Aurora for many years, brought with him his experience in initiating and encouraging other breakfasts across the country through his work with the Christian Business Ministries Canada. Excitingly, in the end, the first breakfast happened, and our mayor at the time, Larry O’Brien, attended.
Throughout many years of involvement, Gerry played a key role, along with the help of the committee, in organizing and emceeing subsequent breakfasts. One of Gerry’s life motto’s is reflected by this statement: “It is not critical that we actually lead people to Christ but that we show them Christ. If their heart is open to Christ, then you are a magnet. They just want to learn more.” His hope and prayer were that each breakfast would be unique, creating a space where the attendees could connect with the speaker’s story and thus connect to Christ.
In 2009, the first OCPB speaker was Rick Tobias from The Toronto Mission. The theme of his talk was Who is your Neighbour? The Committee liked this theme so much that it became the annual theme. Each year, the speaker answers this question from their perspective and life experience. Each time, without fail, the answer to this question comes in many beautiful and wonderful ways: from a medical doctor to a football player, from a news journalist to a missionary among the indigenous people, and from a businessman walking the journey of ALS with faith and hope. Each one has answered the question and challenged the attendees to be good neighbours in our sphere of influence.
Wayne Webster continues to chair the OCPB committee. When asked about his role over the years, Wayne remarked “I kind of wanted to see the breakfast happen and the bonus was that I was able to be involved in the process”. He has watched as the breakfast has been used by God to facilitate the coming together of churches, ministries and organizations in a spirit of unity to stand together with the city’s civic leaders. He is deeply thankful for all that God has done.
The planning and hosting of the annual Ottawa Civic Prayer Breakfast has now come under the auspices of One Way Ministries (OWM). OWM and the committee love to see people of faith gather to honour the Lord, to thank and pray for Civic Leaders and First Responders, to be a catalyst for better neighbouring by the church and city, to highlight and facilitate city/church partnerships and to help the church in Ottawa celebrate Jesus’ presence through different expressions of Christian Faith.