History of Seattle Prayer Breakfasts:
During the 1930's, the city of Seattle was going through a time of intense political pressure and turmoil. In April of 1935 a group of nineteen civic leaders, led by Dr. Abraham (Abram) Vereide, first superintendent of Goodwill Industries, met together at the Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. They gathered together to face a critical situation in the life of their city. In attendance was Seattle city Councilman Arthur B. Langlie, who later became Mayor of Seattle (1938-1941), and then Governor of the State of Washington (1941-45, 1949-57). As they continued to meet regularly, a new vision of a life of usefulness was born. A new purpose for living was recognized, that of being agents of reconciliation in personal, business, and community life.
By 1937, two hundred nine prayer breakfast groups had been organized throughout Seattle. The idea of these prayer breakfast groups, which were non-denominational, was to bring together civic and business leaders informally to share a meal, study the Bible, develop relationships of trust & support, and to promote the principles of Jesus. As their fellowship grew, there developed among them a concern for the poor and those oppressed in their community. Vereide traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest and later around the country, helping to develop similar groups. He began to see the relationship of the political and industrial leadership of America to social and economic problems.
Vereide determined that in order to remedy the latter, it was necessary to redeem the former. After nine years at Goodwill in Seattle, he was invited to Boston in 1931 to be associate general superintendent of the Goodwill Industries of America. The turning point came when Franklin D. Roosevelt, then governor of New York State, invited him to a conference concerning a social relief program for that state. He emphasized that what the state needed more than anything else was a spiritual upsurge. When Roosevelt had been nominated for president he formed an advisory body for his incoming administration to discuss national policy. They shared a mutual concern to save America from the political and economic breakdown that then existed. They reviewed the history of America and pointed out that they had nineteen depressions, five major ones, and that every one was caused by disobedience to divine laws, neglect of God, the Church and the spiritual life, and that what had given rise to economic prosperity and social welfare was the quickening of the religious life. As these prayer groups grew, multiplied, and spread, their goal continued to be to bring reconciliation and healing to all areas of life through the power of Jesus. That mission continues today all across the nation in prayer breakfasts and groups from coast to coast.