Staunton Council Votes on How to Open of Work Sessions - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Staunton Council Work Sessions Will Open with ‘Invocation/Moment of Silence’

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It's tradition for Staunton City Councilors to open their meetings with an invocation. 

After a vote Thursday night, the invocation/moment of silence will happen at the beginning of the councilors' work session.

A few weeks ago, a meeting agenda said "moment of silence" instead of "invocation" and councilwoman Andrea Oakes went to the public. 

"Our citizens would not have known about this. It would have gone quietly under the radar. It could have easily been changed or watered down to a moment of silence rather than an invocation. I had to speak up to let the citizens know," Oakes said. 

At Thursday night's work session, Oakes made two separate motions to do just that, but neither was seconded. 

Vice Mayor Carolyn Dull asked why a vote was even necessary when no one on City Council wanted anything to change in the first place - and the sentiment appeared to be shared by the majority. 

City Attorney Doug Guynn told councilors that, under the law, the invocation is for the governing body. In other words: it's for the city councilors, not the citizens.   

In the end, councilors voted to continue their existing informal practice on a rotating basis and it will be listed as an "invocation/moment of silence." They voted to have it at the beginning of their work sessions.  

Oakes led the last "invocation" to be given at the beginning of the meeting.  

"God with the vote that just took place all I can say is forgive this council," she said. "Amen."

Reported by Tara Todd.

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