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Preacher to give opening prayer at Obama event

By Staff | Feb 10, 2009

A Fort Myers preacher has been selected to give the opening prayer for President Barack Obama’s visit to Fort Myers today.
The Rev. James Bing of Friendship Baptist Church was tapped for the distinct honor.
He said he is “honored and surprised,” but does not know how, exactly, he was chosen.
“I got a phone call yesterday (Sunday), that was it,” he said. “I never really expected it.”
Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Bing has lived in Lee County for 35 years. His position with Friendship Baptist Church is what brought him to the area.
He said his congregation is plagued with many of the ills facing Lee County, and indeed, the nation.
“Anytime people cannot feed their families or pay their mortgages, it’s a concern,” he said. “I think, generally, what permeates in society also impacts this area. I understand the downturn in construction influences the economy in diverse ways.”
The reverend did not speculate on what Obama could accomplish during his visit to the area, other than to make his presence known.
His time in the ministry has shown Bing that, often, showing up speaks volumes.
“I’m not really sure what he can accomplish, but I think it’s important to establish a presence in the region. He’s not a miracle worker, but it (his visit) demonstrates his concern,” he said. “One of the greatest things I’ve learned is it’s not always what you say, but your presence speaks volumes.”
Bing did not know if he would have any face time with Obama.
He stressed that he did not lobby for the opportunity to invoke the opening prayer, and Bing has tried to be as indiscreet and quiet as possible during the exciting process.
Nor is he nervous to meet the president.
“There’s no nervousness. I’m a man of 70 years and 50 years of ministry,” he said. “The last 50 years has been in public life. I’m more nervous going to the pulpit on Sundays.”