God, as they say, is in the details. That is exactly what Marsha Corbett Walker and her four co-committee members count on every year for their annual Valley Leadership Prayer Breakfast.
Although this year is extra special because it is the popular event's 25th anniversary, Walker -- a San Ramon mortgage broker -- said the group is depending as usual on the Lord to help the event come together. And so far He's never let them down.
"Every year we think this was the best one," Walker said during a recent interview. "But then the next year's is even better!"
As in previous years the event will be held at the San Ramon Marriott Hotel on Good Friday. This year it is April 18 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Typically, the keynote speaker is kept a secret. But this year because of the excitement around the 25th anniversary, Corbett said the speaker is being announced in advance. It is, aptly enough, the founder of the Valley Leadership Prayer Breakfast himself -- Jim Horsley, a real estate developer who now lives in Oregon.
A retired Navy lieutenant commander, Horsley flew more than 200 missions as a highly decorated combat pilot in Vietnam and performed in more than 150 airshows as a demonstration pilot with the Blue Angels
"He was our speaker for our 10th annual Prayer Breakfast. It seems fitting that he should speak at the 25th annual event," said Walker.
About 400 people -- many of them area political leaders and their guests --are expected to attend this year's breakfast. Although invitations are sent to previous attendees as well as to elected and appointed government officials and business leaders, the breakfast is open to everyone. Many people purchase tables for their employees and colleagues.
Despite the popularity of the event, it is not a money-maker. Given the high costs of the room, the food, the sound system and the centerpieces, Corbett says it is always a miracle that there is just enough money left to pay for next year's expenses.
"God clearly wants this event to happen," says Corbett. "We never advertise. And we never do the math."
Corbett, a born-again Chrstian, says she, co-chair Kevin Ring and the three other committee members started the Prayer Breakfast out of the belief that if local leaders had a relationship with God, it would help them be more successful.
"An organization is only as strong as its head," said Corbett.
"If your leadership is Christ-centered, you will succeed by doing good to others, sharing the wealth, acting with fairness, love peace, joy and gentleness. If you lead with those attributes then you represent Christ."
And it can be lonely at the top, Corbett points out. Both business and political leaders feel less alone, she explained, if they communicate regularly with God. The prayer breakfast facilitates that, she said.
"Eisenhower felt lonely" she explains.
"That is why he believed in the prayer breakfasts."
It is thought that the "prayer breakfast group" idea first took hold in 1935, when a group of Seattle businessmen gathered to face a critical situation in their city. The idea spread and soon such groups sprung up in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and other cities.
It took on a higher profile in 1953, when President Eisenhower initiated the first National Prayer Breakfast, in large measure to receive spiritual uplifting not only from God, but from fellow government leaders.
Today, such breakfasts are held in more than 5,000 American cities.