- Shelia M. Poole The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta’s 60th mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, began her inauguration day with an interfaith worship service at Impact Church.
It was fitting that the service was held at the East Point church, which was once an abandoned warehouse in a blighted area.
While attending a service there in November 2015 with her mother and daughter, Bottoms said God gave her confirmation that she should run for the city’s highest office, ending an internal debate. She had told her husband, Derek, numerous times that she wasn’t sure now was the right time, “because God hasn’t told me yet.”
“I know I stand here on the prayers of generations,” said Bottoms, who became emotional at times. “And a grandmother who had faith for us when we often didn’t have sense enough to have faith in ourselves.” Her grandmother also believed that things would work out for all those who believed in the Lord.
That sentiment often carried her through the toughest times of a campaign against opponent Mary Norwood.
“I stand here today as a testament that when God says He will do something, He does it,” she said. “It was the reason, during the course of this campaign, that I could keep my head up high, I didn’t waver because I knew we were doing what God told us to do.”
Participants included the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, resident bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple; and Imam Sulaimaan Hamed, of the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam.
Former Atlanta Mayor and civil rights leader Andrew Young was in the audience but didn’t speak.
About 200 people attended the service, which also included praise dance by the Axam Dance Theatre Experience and music by gospel powerhouse Dottie Peoples, Ashley Perrymond and Greg Kirkland Jr, featuring the SEEiT Choir. The morning service often was filled with applause and more than a few amens.
She promised that she would do what is “right and what is just.” No matter your faith, she said, her team will do “what has been placed in our hearts to do.”
Many of the speakers called for the city to come together behind the new mayor.
“We are here today as one Atlanta,” said Impact’s Lead Pastor Olu Brown. He said now was a “season of healing” after an intense election.
Ingrid Saunders Jones, chairwoman of the National Council of Negro Women, has known Bottoms for years.
“She’s a child of Southwest Atlanta,” said Jones, a longtime civic leader and former corporate executive. “I understand the importance of public service. I understand the importance of leadership…We all need to support our new mayor and her leadership. This is a special day.”
Tony Taylor, president of Engineering Design Technologies, arrived early to show his support for his candidate.
“We have a chance for what I believe will be a continuation of a lot of great things as it relates to the economic foundation necessary for growth,” he said.
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