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Milbrandt to address prayer breakfast

Jay Milbrandt (center, in hat) unloads supplies while working with the Burma Rangers in Southeast Asia. (Submitted Photo)

WORTHINGTON --The community that prays together, stays together.

That may not be exactly how the saying goes, but it's the philosophy behind a long-running local tradition --a prayer breakfast sponsored by the local Early Risers Kiwanis Club, set for May 18 at the American Reformed Church.

"Our community needs all the prayer that we can get," explained Kiwanian Priscilla Williams, one of the event organizers. "I think that's a very central thing that we are losing sight of."

This is the 20th year for the breakfast, and with marking this milestone, the organizers decided to give it a new name. Previously called the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, this year it is the 20th annual Community Prayer Breakfast.

"We just wanted to keep politics out of it," said Williams, stressing that it doesn't indicate a lack of support by Mayor Al Oberloh and the current city administration. "He is still being invited; we are sending him tickets, but we wanted to keep more sight on the prayer aspect. That's why the name was changed."

Speaking at the breakfast will be Jay Milbrandt, son of Kim and Sarah Milbrandt and grandson of Bob and Pat Ludlow of Worthington. Jay and his wife, Worthingtonian Lisa (Kremer), recently moved back to the area from California, where Jay had been director of the Global Justice Program and associate director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion and Ethics at Pepperdine University. Jay will continue to serve as legal counsel at the family business, Bedford Industries in Worthington, and also teach at Bethel University in the Twin Cities. Lisa, a registered nurse, is entering a physician's assistant program.

During his time at Pepperdine, Jay discovered a passion for human service, which has taken him to different areas of the world. As a lawyer, he has been an advocate for youths incarcerated --often under false pretenses --in a remand center in Uganda while awaiting hearings on their alleged offenses. In Thailand, he worked with kids he met on the street and refugees living in camps. His experiences eventually led to a book, "Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time," published last year.

Most recently, he and Lisa spent two months in southeast Asia, working with the Burma Rangers.

"They provide relief in the war zones in Burma --humanitarian relief, medical and food and security and shelter -- but they are also a faith-based group," Jay explained. "A big part of their mission is providing hope and more on the side of spiritual care, more holistic."

Although they were working on the other side of the world, there was a direct connection to the community of Worthington, Jay noted. Many of Worthington's most recent immigrants are Karen --a people persecuted in their homeland of Burma (also known as Myanmar).

"You may have heard the international news about this refugee camp that caught on fire, a Karen refugee camp," said Jay. "More than half of it burned down in March while we were there, and we were scrambled up there two or three days later with relief supplies and to investigate, learn more. It was kind of a crazy adventure, because they didn't want people coming into the camp. They tried to keep it closed down, and we just got permission at the last second to be able to go in. We got a really interesting perspective on what life was like in that camp."

Jay's presentation at the prayer breakfast will focus on his book and personal experiences in living out the "Go and Do" philosophy.

"I also want to lay out some ideas for the community, set the groundwork for some things we could do in Worthington," he said. "... I look at the Karen situation specifically, since that's the one I've been involved with most intimately on the Burma side of things. I was there before they settled any Karen people here in Worthington, and it's been interesting to see it come full circle. I wonder if there aren't some interesting opportunities for Worthington in that."

The 20th annual Community Prayer Breakfast will be at 8 a.m. May 18 at the American Reformed Church, 1720 N. Burlington Ave. A breakfast catered by Hy-Vee will be served. Tickets are available at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Eye Clinic, AX Photo, or from any Early Risers Kiwanis member.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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