Two Selected for Secular Spring Invocations

Ed Sweeney (left), Robert Ridgard (right)

Two members of Columbus CoR groups were selected to present invocations at local city/town council meetings this Spring. The practice of opening government meetings with prayer has evolved to include invocations from non-religious citizens, at least in Upper Arlington and Hilliard.

Ed Sweeney’s invocation at the May 8th Upper Arlington City Council meeting has been posted online. The recording of the entire meeting is 39:20 long. At 3:15 the meeting starts and Ed’s invocation runs from 4:15 to 5:45. President of Council/Mayor Deborah A. Johnson is heard to say “that was awesome” following it. Earlier this year, members of Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT) requested Day of Reason proclamations from the State of Ohio, Franklin County, City of Columbus and City of Upper Arlington. Although no proclamations were granted, Ed was invited to give the invocation at the Upper Arlington City Council meeting that followed the National Day of Reason. [Addedum 6/19/2017: FFRF has published the text of Ed’s invocation.]

Robert Ridgard emailed the UU Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists (ASH) group that he would be giving the invocation at the June 12th Hilliard Town Council. Rose Hagalaz congratulated Robert on the Humanists Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) Facebook group and relayed his account of how this happened:

“I was inspired [and nudged] by David Williamson of Central Florida Freethought Community to do my part for Secular Invocations when I was in Florida, where I gave Secular Invocations at the Lady Lake Town Council meetings as part of their rotating list of speakers.

“Now that I am a resident of the City of Hilliard, OH, I have begun attending Council and other City public meetings. After a recent meeting, I chatted with a council member and asked how they arranged for speakers for the Invocation. He told me they worked from a rotating list, with the Council filling in if a scheduled speaker was unable to be present. He told me the person to contact, and I then submitted a request to be listed, explaining that I am a Humanist Celebrant, with a few more details included. Shortly, I got a reply with open dates and responded with a preferred date, which was accepted a few days later.”

Those interested can attend the Hilliard Town Council meeting on Monday, June 12th at 7:00 PM at 5800 Municipal Way, Hilliard, Ohio 43026.

COUNT, UU ASH and HCCO are members of the Columbus Coalition of Reason (

Columbus CoR Pages