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Winter storm scrambles Deal's inauguration plans
Expanded prayer service for new governor set for Jan. 16 at First Baptist
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Nathan Deal's first focus today is safety.

Though Deal will be sworn in as Georgia's 82nd governor as planned on Monday, the winter storm will shift his oath of office indoors.

The 2:30 p.m. inauguration will move from the Capitol steps into the House chamber. The event will be broadcast live on Georgia Public Television and streamed on

The morning prayer service at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta has been canceled. The evening inaugural gala at Philips Arena will be postponed until spring.

"I am honored that so many Georgians want to take part in this historic event, but please, everybody take safety as your first priority," Deal said during a news conference Sunday at the Capitol.

As Deal announced the changes, incoming first lady Sandra Deal explained the changes to family and friends gathered at a reception at the Governor's Mansion.

"I'm so sorry all of these plans are getting canceled and messed up, but we can't control the weather," she said. "So many people have worked so hard to prepare this, and hopefully we can plan to continue this another time.

"I wanted to have a party and a celebration. This is a wonderful place to have reunions and get-togethers. We may have to make it a covered dish, but that's OK. We can handle that."

She played a song that was scheduled to be performed at the inaugural gala. The song, "With a Servant's Heart" was written by daughter Katie Deal, her husband, Chris Wright, and Bruce Burch, director of the music and entertainment business program at Kennesaw State University.

The song, performed by Katie Deal, speaks of a man who "leaves this world a better place." Wright told the group to hear the song on the radio on Tuesday and find it for download in coming weeks.

"This song is very special because it's about a special family," Wright said. "Most importantly, it's for Nathan about his parents, but it's also about him and Sandra. It drives home a beautiful message and exemplifies the reason why we're here today."

A prayer service for the new governor will be held next Sunday, Jan. 16, at his hometown church, Gainesville's First Baptist.

"We were already planning to say a blessing for the governor next Sunday, but now we'll expand it," said the Rev. Bill Coates.

Bruce Morgan, who was the pastor when the Deals married in 1966, will give the sermon he planned for Monday at Mount Paran. The 97-member choir group will perform the songs they practiced for the inaugural prayer service.

"I'm excited that we still get to have part of the service," Coates said Sunday. "Anybody who wants to be part of it is welcome to join."

 The inaugural committee announced that ticket holders to the swearing-in ceremony will be able to watch a live feed from the Georgia Freight Depot, if they still want to attend. Those who hold tickets to the gala will receive refunds.

"You've all been very important to us during the campaign, and we wouldn't be here without you," Deal said. "I apologize that we can't follow through with the festivities ... but don't take any chances if you don't have to be out on the roads. We'll make it up in the early spring and have another ball and have all of you there."




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