Lawrence faith leaders to hold prayer vigil for SRS situation

An interfaith event to lament the planned closing by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration of the Lawrence office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services will be Saturday.

Faith leaders will hold a prayer vigil “Caring for the most vulnerable among us” from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on the front steps of Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.

Representatives from Plymouth, the Islamic Center of Lawrence, the Lawrence Jewish Community Center and others will speak briefly on the obligation to vulnerable residents.

Plymouth Senior Pastor Peter Luckey noted that the event will be held at the same time as a highly publicized prayer event in Houston that Brownback may be attending at the invitation of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“As our governor goes to Texas to pray with Rick Perry, faith leaders in Lawrence gather to give voice to what we have in common: concern for the most vulnerable,” Luckey said.

In June, Brownback said he accepted Perry’s invitation to the event, called “The Response,” which has generated criticism because some of the groups involved with the prayer session are anti-gay. In recent days, Brownback’s staff has declined to confirm whether he was going, saying that he would be on vacation and the event is on his calendar.

Brownback and SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. have said that the Lawrence SRS office should be closed to save money and that clients who use the office can access services online or travel to offices in nearby cities, such as Topeka. Local officials say the closure will damage the community because thousands of needy residents will lose services, and the savings for the state will simply be shifted to costs for local nonprofit agencies.