May 15, 2018
Good evening Mayor Johnson, council members, staff and citizens.
As we convene this evening to focus on the needs of city of Ocoee, let us remember that when we share with others that which is most important to us, listening begins.
When we acknowledge the concerns of others, when we say those concerns matter, compassion begins.
When we stand united against hatred, violence, and injustice, courage begins.
When we experience the full presence of each other, because of our shared humanity, in spite of our disagreements, this is where understanding begins.
May we be open to others’ ideas and beliefs, respectful of our differences, not threatened by them.
May we grow in understanding of our own motives. May we replace fear with knowledge, helping us to be patient and charitable in our dialogue.
While we often focus on our differences, this evening let us also seek to understand the ideals and values we share.
Today and tomorrow, let us value one another more than we did yesterday.
May 21, 2018
Good evening Mayor Apgar, commissioners, city staff and citizens.
We come together at the beginning of another week, to listen and address the needs of the people of the city of Deland.
Tonight, as you honor the Public Works Department, let us remember that vital role it plays in connecting and protecting the community. It is through its concerted effort that we maintain the high quality of life in Deland.
May we openly listen and develop new ways of relating to neighbors and to the strangers we may soon call our friend.
Let us to find a sense of humility where we have privilege, and strength where we find and face oppression.
In our struggles, may we learn compassion; and in our power, may we learn temperance.
As a community, may we be a safe harbor in a world that is often harsh toward difference.
This evening, may we lean forward, keeping in mind the welfare of all the city citizens, embracing reason and free inquiry, working harmoniously together to transform our city through love and to accomplish good works with compassion and consideration for all.
Osceola County, Fla. Commissioners Council
July 9, 2018
Thank you, commissioners, city staff and citizens of Osceola County. Let us take this moment, before we begin, to pause and reflect on why we have come together.
We assemble today to work together for good of the county.
We gather with confidence in the practice of democracy and with hearts and minds open to the wisdom in every voice among us.
Thomas Jefferson once called town meetings “the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government and for its preservation.”
We recognize that vigorous debate is essential to democracy, and part of our revolutionary tradition.
So, as we gather this afternoon, let there be a free and unhampered exchange of ideas, questions and opinions.
Let us be mindful of the standards of tolerance, reason and civility recognizing the diversity with which we thrive and giving the most respect to those of differing views.
May we employ our best judgment keeping ourselves impartial and neutral as we consider the merits and pitfalls of each matter before us.
And may we always act in accordance with that which is best for our community and our fellow citizens.
FFRF Member Jocelyn Williamson, a lifelong atheist, co-founded and is a director of the central Florida Freethought Community, which is working to build a secular community and to keep religion out of government in central Florida. She also founded the Science League for Kids.
She has been named the winner of FFRF’s 2018 “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” contest and will give one of her invocations at FFRF’s convention in San Francisco in November.