During the race for governor last year, every now and then candidates who had put in heavy schedules for six days a week would say they were looking forward to a Sunday off and the chance to sleep in their own beds.
Republican Bill Haslam, who would become governor, usually put it another way. He would say he was looking forward to going to his home church.
A crowd at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville got a glimpse of that side of Haslam on Thursday when he appeared at the Tennessee Prayer Breakfast and introduced the featured speaker Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization that addresses poverty.
Melinda Doolittle, a finalist on American Idol, sang at the event.
Haslam’s home church is the Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Knoxville, where he was mayor for eight years and spent his career as an executive for the family business, Pilot Corp. Haslam has served as an elder of the Knoxville church, as has Herbert Slatery, Haslam’s legal counsel as governor.
“All of us, whether we admit it or not, are driven by some view of the world. It is my faith that helps me make decisions,” Haslam said after the event Thursday. “It is quite frankly what made me decide to run for office, not in the sense of God said I should be governor but in the sense of how this might be a way I can help.”
Haslam said it was a “personal treat” to be at the Prayer Breakfast with Stearns.
“Rich Stearns and I have been friends for 11 years. We’ve literally traveled all over the world together to some of the poorest countries and hardest situations,” Haslam said.
Haslam told the audience he hears frequently from people who support him spiritually.
“I can’t tell you how many people come up to me every day and say, ‘We’re praying for you.’ I’ll say thanks,” Haslam said. “They say, ‘No, we really are praying for you.’
“I want to say how grateful Crissy and I are for the fact so many of you do pray for us.”
As for whether the Haslams have a new home church, the governor said thus far they have been in Nashville only three or four Sundays since he became governor and have gone back home frequently or they have been in Washington, Memphis or some other city.
“We’ve visited three or four times so far,” Haslam said of attending church in Nashville. “Eventually we’ll pick a home church. We just haven’t yet.”
Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey also participated in Thursday’s event, which was attended by several members of the Legislature.