By Mike Steely

Senior Writer

People are still taking about the invocation given by Rev. Chris Buice at the inauguration of Knoxville’s new mayor, city judge, and city council members December 21.

Rev. Buice is senior minister at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and spoke about tolerance and acceptance to a packed house at the Bijou Theatre. Introduced by immigrant and restauranteur Yassin Terou, owner of Yassin’s Falafel House, Buice said, “Let us pray in that spirit of prayer that includes us all.”

Here’s part of Rev. Buice’s prayer:

“We thank you for this little city which we love more than words can say. We thank you for our newly elected leaders and those who challenged them who gave us a contest of ideas and thus strengthened our democracy.

“We thank you for the suffragists memorialized on Market Square Mall who worked so hard for this moment.  We thank you for the Knoxville College students who led the civil rights sit-ins that allow us to sit together today and for the storyteller in Morningside Park and his ancestors who led us to find the good and praise it.

“We thank you for the access and the day when the Henley Street Bridge would be illuminated by all the colors of the rainbow flag. We thank you for the organizers of the World’s Fair, The Hola Festival, the Greek Fest, The Asian Festival, the Kuumba Fest, the Arab Fest, the Hindu Fest, the India Fest, the Rossini Festival, the Knoxville Jewish Food Festival, the Blue Plate Special, and so many other events that remind us that Knoxville is a city where all people can find common ground and work together for the common good.

“We thank you for our civic leaders of the past who looked at boarded-up buildings and saw opportunity. We thank you for this new generation of leaders about to take their offices, who dream new dreams and seek a new vision. We ask that you guide their feet, their hands, their hearts and their minds as they run our city.”