Sussex County Council meetings will continue to open with a prayer.
Council members voted Tuesday to approve an agreement that will allow the practice to continue.
The deal settles a lawsuit brought by Americans United for Separation of Church and State in June 2011 on behalf of four Sussex County residents – the Rev. John Steinbruck, Barbara Mullin, Julie Jackson and William O’Connor.
The suit objected the Sussex County Council’s long-standing tradition of opening meetings with the Lord’s Prayer.
Details of the agreement are not being released pending court approval, but Sussex County officials confirm it does not restore use of the Lord’s Prayer. The agreement allows for use of an invocation before each meeting.
“Prayer is an important part of the lives of so many Sussex Countians,” Council President Michael H. Vincent said in a statement. “While this body represents all Sussex County residents, who come from a variety of faiths and walks of life, we firmly believe it is our right – and our duty – to honor the traditions of the past, and to ask for divine guidance each week as we conduct the people’s business. I am happy that both sides have reached an amicable resolution, one that respects the rule of law, but preserves Council’s prerogative to have a legislative prayer.”