Attendees of the 15th annual Mayors Prayer Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency in Valencia prayed for the community, first responders, city officials, elected officials and the nation as a whole in honor of the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2.
Every year, the event also brings well-known speakers in the faith community to Santa Clarita. This year’s keynote speakers included two filmmakers whose recent film, “Unplanned,” has sparked controversy across the nation.
Before prayers were said, breakfast was served while international religious music was played, and a variety of guest speakers touched on this year’s theme of “love one another.”
Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Laurene Weste gave opening remarks about her personal journey with faith in the community.
“I believe prayer is our personal link to God, anytime and anywhere we are,” Weste said. “In this community, we’re all working to make a better world right where we are. Our faith shows through. We are truly blessed in Santa Clarita.”
Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, who created Believe Entertainment, a production company dedicated to making movies that honor God, spoke about how faith-centered films have been received in Hollywood, including their film “Unplanned,” which focuses on the issue of abortion.
“Faith-based films have stolen the means of production,” Konzelman said. “They are making films without traditional studios or distribution, and the breaking of that mold is revolutionary.”
With “Unplanned,” they budgeted to have pastors and priests on set every day they shot the movie.
“Prayer is everything,” Solomon said. “And faith without confidence is nothing.”
They also discussed their struggles in advertising their film on social media, saying Google had previously labeled their film’s genre as “propaganda.”
“You can’t fight Google, but you can out-pray them,” Solomon said.
The program continued with guest speaker Niamani Knight, a senior at Saugus High School who founded the STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and manufacturing) Kids Expo in 2014 when she was only 13.
“Some of us have been challenged for our choices, our beliefs, our dreams,” Knight said. “We’ve been challenged by the things that make us who we are, the purpose that drives our lives, especially when it’s seemingly different than those that surround us. But despite it all, we choose to be different. I have learned that leaders are not leaders because they fit in, leaders are leaders because they change lives.”
The breakfast was hosted by The Diako Group, a nonprofit dedicated to helping young people in the community become future leaders, and is part of a nationwide event designated by Congress that calls on people of all different faiths to pray for the nation and its leaders.
“It is important to lift them up daily in prayer, for protection, for guidance,” said Joe Messina, founder of The Diako Group.