Breezy Hill pastor forms Barack Obama prayer group

The Rev. Robert Riley

Billions of people throughout the world will watch the historic inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday. Many of them will be praying for him, including the parishioners of Breezy Hill Baptist Church of Graniteville in a formal way. Since last Sunday, Pastor Robert Riley has been asking his congregation and others to be part of "One of a Thousand," praying for the president-elect once every hour for 12 hours throughout the day Tuesday. "In all honesty, this came up for me personally as a pastor," Riley said. "I was reading and studying for myself as a personal devotion. I realized we have a tremendous responsibility to pray for our leaders and government." Riley readily acknowledged that the large majority of the church's members supported Republican John McCain in the general election. But the new president needs support, the minister said, especially during an economic crisis and the ongoing threat of terrorism. Riley said he has tremendous admiration for anyone willing to step into the challenges facing America. "I believe that Obama knows he needs a wisdom far beyond his own," said Riley. "Praying is one thing we can do for him, praying in the right spirit. I brought this challenge to the church that this is something we ought to take seriously." The pastor has placed the challenge on the church's website, Riley chose the number of 1,000 while recognizing the church's average attendance is about 300. His congregation members are asking other family members and friends to join in. There's even a Facebook group created for the project, and its membership numbers are approaching 500. The more he has read and studied, said Riley, he is convinced about the role God has for Christians in regard to their government and leaders. "This is not a gimmick or promotion," he said on the church website, "but a heartfelt effort to do what is right before God on behalf of our nation." Contact Rob Novit at