Founder and Executive Director of Blood: Water Mission Jena Lee Nardella gives a benediction during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, NC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday concluded with a prayer from Jenna Lee Nardella, founder of the nonprofit Blood:Water Mission.

Nardella’s group seeks to provide Africans with access to safe water and establish HIV clinics in marginalized regions of east Africa.

The Nashville nonprofit was co-founded with the Christian band Jars of Clay and has a board of directors with prominent Evangelical ties, including individuals with the anti-trafficking group International Justice Mission, Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey, and the Falls Church, Virginia-based Washington Institute. I learned of Blood: Water Mission’s work last year. A member of my Anglican parish serves on the board of directors, along with board advisor Steven Garber of the aforementioned Washington Institute, who is a member of the Falls Church Anglican.

Nardella herself attends a Nashville Episcopal church, St. Augustine’s Chapel, which I discovered last year when its pastor, Becca Stevens, was profiled on NPR for her work founding the Magdelene House ministry to women leaving lives of prostitution and drug abuse.

Below is the full text of Nadella’s closing benediction, as transcribed by IRD intern Nathaniel Torrey:

As a young woman of faith and a leader, I am humbled to follow the first lady whom we all admire. So thank you for inviting me here. As we close this day let us quiet our hearts in prayer.

God I stand before you and ask that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto you. I pray for our president Barack Obama. May he know your presence Oh God as he continues to serve as a leader to this nation, as a husband to Michelle, and as a father to his daughters. Help him to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. I pray as well for Governor Mitt Romney. May he know your presence Oh God as he continues to serve as a leader, as a husband to Anne, and as a father to his sons and their families. Help him to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you.

I pray for our country in the next nine weeks leading up to this election, for those of us here, and for our fellow citizens who met last week. May we make our children proud of how we conduct ourselves. We know our human tendencies to finger pointing and frivolousness. Our better selves want this race to be honest and edifying, rather than fabricated and self-serving. Give us Oh Lord humility to listen to our sisters and brothers across the political spectrum because your Kingdom is not divided into red states and blue states. Equip us with moral imagination to have real discourse; knit us Oh God into as one country even as we wrestle over the complexity of how we ought to live and govern. Give us gratitude for our right to descent and disagree; for we know that we are bound up in one another and we have been given the tremendous opportunity to extend humanity and grace when others voice their deeply held convictions even when they differ from our own and give us wisdom God to discover honest solutions.

For we know that it will take all of us to care for the widow and the orphan, the sick and the lonely, the down trodden and the unemployed, the prisoner and the homeless, the stranger and the enemy, the thirsty and the powerless. In rural African I am witness to thousands of HIV positive mothers, fathers, and children who are alive today because Democrats and Republicans put justice and mercy above partisanship. Help us to keep that perspective even as we debate one another.

 God I thank you for the saving grace of Jesus and for the saints who have humbly gone before us. I thank you for the words of St. Francis of Assisi, whose prayer my husband and I carry with us in our home and in our work across rural Africa. As we enter this election season, I pray St. Francis’ words for us all, “Lord make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred let us sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.


3 Responses to Christian Nonprofit Founder Closes First Night of DNC in Prayer

  1. pastorJ says:

    Wow. Praise God for such a well thought out prayer and pray-er. The media focuses on the extremists found on both the left and the right and it’s good to hear that there are people who manifest a simple devotion Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

  2. Tom Arr says:

    Finally, the first prayer from either the DNC or RNC that is a prayer worthy of mention, because it names Jesus and His real purpose and role –>”saving grace”.

  3. Rick Vinther says:

    Beautiful example of being the Salt and Light of Jesus to our world. Thank you Jen Lee Nardella for your faith and commitment…

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