Mayor Linda Thompson of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has taken on the challenge of avoiding bankruptcy for her city — and her strategy includes taking part in three days of prayer and fasting.
During this week’s prayer-fast, Thompson, fellow citizens and some city leaders are praying for the financial recovery of the city, for the needs of the people and for the greater good of the community.
The prayer-fast, which began at midnight Tuesday, involves Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders.
Thompson, the first woman and first African American to serve as mayor, has a lot to pray about. Her city is in distress, thanks to troubled financing of a trash-burning plant that saddled Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, with about $300 million in debt. That’s a staggering load for a city of 50,000 residents.
Thompson’s church, Goodwin Memorial Baptist, is just one of Harrisburg’s many religious centers open for prayer during the fast. Goodwin Memorial is calling the prayer-fast a “3-Day Esther Fast,” citing Esther 4:1-17 from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.
The prayer-fast culminates with an Ecumenical Service at 4 p.m. EDT today.
Thompson has taken a multi-level approach to solving the city’s financial crisis, and that has garnered its share of supporters and critics, as has her involvement in this week’s prayer-fast. Thompson is unapologetic.
“Things that are above and beyond my control, I need God,” she told WHGM-TV. “I depend on Him for guidance. Spiritual guidance. That’s why it’s really no struggle for me to join this fast and prayer.”
Thompson was born and raised in Harrisburg. She is the youngest of eight siblings and the mother of one son. Thompson founded Loveship Inc., a non-profit organization that serves families, worked with the Urban League and served on the City Council before being elected mayor.
She credits her parents with giving her a firm belief in the power of God and the goodness of people.
“Where a man’s treasure is, there lies his heart, and people are in my heart,” Thompson said in a 2010 interview with Peter Speaks. “Human capital is in my heart. And my parents were very instrumental in taking me to church at a very early age, so it started again at home, helping me develop my morals and my character and my faith.”