Perhaps divine intervention played into snow canceling a prayer service last Monday in Atlanta for Gov. Nathan Deal, the Rev. Bill Coates joked to the First Baptist Church of Gainesville.
"You know why that happened? The Friday before, I prayed that it would snow and snow and snow, so that we could have that service right here at our church today," he told the laughing congregation.
Deal and his wife, Sandra, and other family were on hand Sunday as the church gave its "blessing" on Deal and his new administration.
"We're so happy for you and happy for Georgia, and you're very much in our thoughts and prayers," Coates said.
The service featured special prayers and music, including the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Deal's alma mater, Mercer University in Macon.
Deal's daughter, Katie Deal, who sang "Georgia on My Mind" at his inauguration at the state Capitol last Monday, sang a song she helped write, "With a Servant's Heart," at Sunday's service.
And her husband Chris Wright, who sang "God Bless America" after Deal gave his Inaugural address, also was at First Baptist, singing "The Lord's Prayer."
The Rev. Bruce Morgan, who married the Deals in June 1966, gave the sermon. He spoke from the Old Testament in talking about David's rise to king from a young shepherd boy.
He also talked about "that prayer group in the upper room of this house of prayer some 25 months ago that knelt in a Sunday school room and held up Nathan's candidacy."
The prayer was simply, "Oh Lord, if it's within your providential will, if it be your purpose, let Nathan prevail," Morgan said.
Church member Don Brewer also prayed for Deal, asking "that he may be the leader who leads our state to better times and also brings honor and glory to you.
"I ask that you give him discernment, understanding and knowledge as he leads our state to greatness."
Sandra Deal told the congregation her family is thankful "for the blessings that you have been to us.
"We hope we can represent you well throughout the state and perhaps the nation as we go about the tasks that have been assigned to us by you and by God."
Deal also thanked the church for its support and prayers and gave the benediction to close the service.
"Bless our people here, bless our state, bless those with whom I'll serve," he prayed. "Give us wisdom, give us courage and be with all of us as we attempt to live a servant's life for the benefit of your kingdom and ... the people we represent."