On the eve of Baton Rouge's inauguration day, religious leaders from a number of faiths asked God to guide Mayor-President-elect Sharon Weston Broome.

At a service on the first day of 2017, a Catholic bishop, a Baptist minister and a Muslim imam also reflected on the past year, noting that Baton Rouge suffered — following shootings and a flood — and prayed for the city to recover and prosper.

"Let's pray for a more beautiful Baton Rouge. A stronger Baton Rouge. A more united Baton Rouge. A safer Baton Rouge," said Imam Abdelmadid Moktari.

"Let's all make this place the best place in America," he concluded, eliciting a loud "All right!" from the crowd.

Earnest efforts are already underway to address racial unity, respect and harmony, and it is important that those efforts continue, said Bishop Robert Muench. 

The Rev. Eric Williams asked those assembled at Star Hill Baptist Church to join hands and pray that the city's faith always be apparent, even at times of frustration.

"God, when you put us in one accord, there's nothing we can't do," he said.

Pastors also asked the congregation to pray for the local Jewish community because Rabbi Barry Weinstein, who had planned to speak at Sunday's service, was unable to due to an accident.

The religious leaders also prayed for Broome and the city — the bishop by asking the Holy Spirit to guide the new mayor, the minister by hoping the "presence of God" will lead her, and the imam by praying that Allah will send Baton Rouge down a straight and favorable path. 

Broome's own remarks were brief: She joked that she wanted to save some material for her inauguration speech.

However, she did reflect briefly on Nehemiah, the ancient Jewish leader whose determination in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile are noted in the Hebrew Bible. The mayor-elect called his story "a leadership guide."

Broome cast Nehemiah as a man eager to act when a need arose but whose success lay in calling upon others to join in his cause.

"I need you to help me build," she told the crowd, which included several pews of religious leaders.

"I need everybody off the bench and in the game for us to win."

As she had emphasized in her campaign, Broome again discussed the importance of religion in her life. She is a member of the Baptist church where Sunday's ceremony was held.

"My faith in God leads and directs me in everything I say and do," she told the congregation.

"You prayed me in (to office.) Now you've got to pray me through."


Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.