To give the invocation at the Chairman’s Dinner the Friday evening before the October 25th commissioning of USS NORTH DAKOTA I called on my dear long time friend Rev. Bob Polk. Here is my introduction of him.
The Reverend Robert L. Polk is a retired minister of the United Church of Christ, formerly the Congregational Church. His ties to North Dakota run deep. He grew up in Chicago and was ordained, but his first call in 1955 was for two years to a small church in Berthold, North Dakota. With the construction and buildup of the Minot Air Force Base bringing more diversity to Minot, community leaders realized the need for the skills Bob Polk could bring to a visible position in Minot. Bob became the Youth Program Secretary of the Minot YMCA, just a block from the Minot Senior and Junior High Schools. He built great relationships with so very many of us kids as he was a warm and friendly man. Bob and I met at the Y becoming lifelong friends. He held this job from 1957 through 1960 when I graduated from high school. In 1960 he became the Minister of Youth at the Riverside Church in New York City serving for 13 years. He also served nine years as the executive director of The Council of Churches in the City of New York. I am personally honored that my North Dakota friend Bob Polk is with us to share in this milestone for the Great State of North Dakota!
Here is Reverend Polk’s invocation and benediction:
USS NORTH DAKOTA
24 OCTOBER 2014
INVOCATION DELIVERED BY THE REV. ROBERT L. POLK
LET US PRAY:
Our God, Our Help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
O DIVINE SPIRIT, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, SUN & STARS, WIND, WAVES AND SEA; WE COME BEFORE YOU ON THIS GLORIOUS COMMISSIONING OCCASION TO BLESS THIS REMARKABLE VESSEL; THE ENDEAVOR OF GREAT MINDS AND HUMAN HANDS.
MAY ALL WHO SERVE ON HER BE PROTECTED FROM THE PERILS OF THE DEEP AS THEY GUARD OUR COUNTRY. MAY A SAFE COURSE ALWAYS BE PLOTTED FOR HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO LIVE AND WORK ON BOARD AS THEY TRAVEL THE WATERS OF THE WORLD WITH VIGILANCE AND COURAGE AND PERSONAL RESILIENCE.
O GOD, WE PRAY THAT EVERY VOYAGE IS FILLED WITH THE GIFT OF LEARNING, ENHANCED BY COPING WITH CHALLENGES THAT DEVELOP SKILL, CONFIDENCE AND EXPERTISE.
MAY SHE ALWAYS BE A TRUSTWORTHY AND RELIABLE PARTNER WITH YOU TO BE GUIDED THROUGH STORMS AS WELL AS WATERS OF CALM TO A SAFE HAVEN AND A FRIENDLY PORT.
WE PRAY THAT THE USS NORTH DAKOTA WILL BE LOYAL TO THIS GREAT STATE BY BEING MINDFUL OF ITS GLORIOUS CREST WHICH EMBRACES THE SYMBOLS AND BEARS THE WORDS: “STRENGTH FROM THE SOIL & REAPERS OF THE DEEP.”
WE IMPLORE YOU, GRACIOUS GOD, TO MAKE THE STORMY SEAS OF LIFE TRANQUIL BY YOUR HEAVENLY BENEDICTION. AS STATED IN THE BOOK OF PSALMS, WE KNOW YOU CAN STILL THE STORM TO A WHISPER AND HUSH THE SEAS. SO WE ASK THAT THOSE WHO SAIL ON THIS BOAT ARE GLAD WHEN IT GROWS CALM AND ARE SUCCESSFUL IN THEIR MISSIONS.
FINALLY, MAY THOSE WHO BECOME ONE WITH THIS GREAT VESSEL LIVE OUT THE ENCOURAGING THOUGHTS OF MARK TWAIN BY THROWING OFF THE LINES, SAILING AWAY FROM SAFE HARBOR, CATCHING THE WIND AND, IN DOING SO, EXPLORE, DREAM AND DISCOVER.
WE COMMISSION THIS GREAT BOAT, USS N.D. AND ASK YOUR CONTINUED BLESSING ON ALL THE SOULS SHE WILL ENCOMPASS AND PROTECT.
We are grateful for this occasion — the Chairman’s Dinner — and all who gather about these tables for nourishment, fellowship and the joy of your many blessings.
GOD BLESS THE USS NORTH DAKOTA, ITS NAMESAKE AND GOD BLESS AMERICA. AMEN.
Go forth into the world in peace;
Be of good courage;
Hold fast to that which is good;
Render to no person evil for evil;
Strengthen the faint hearted;
Support the weak;
Help the afflicted;
Honor all persons;
Love and serve the Lord;
And may the blessing of God almighty be with you, the USS North Dakota, its commander and crew now and always. Amen.
Here are the words to the USS NORTH DAKOTA verse of the Navy Hymn:
Lord be with NORTH DAKOTA’s crew
As through the depths they pursue
Their mission always peace to keep
Reaping threats from the deep
Protecting those on land who toil
Drawing strength from the soil
Words written by CAPT Bob Wefald, USNR (Ret)