HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Hundreds of members of the community gathered to hear guest speaker Rev. Tom Holladay of Saddleback Church in California during the Heidelberg community National Prayer Breakfast Friday at the Patrick Henry Village Pavilion.

Holladay spoke on the importance of love and prayer. He told those in attendance to love as they go along and make it a part of every part of their lives.

"Why do I think love matters most'" he asked the audience. "It's what you were made for... If I miss out on that, I've missed out on the best of life."

Holladay is an assistant pastor at Saddleback Church, regularly speaking at weekend services and at studies throughout the week. He also hosts a weekly podcast, "Drive Time Devotions," and helps Saddleback pastor Rick Warren with Purpose-Driven Church conferences to Christian leaders throughout the world.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jason Duckworth, Heidelberg community chaplain, said he was glad Holladay was able to make the trip across the ocean to speak to the community here.

"I think it's a unique opportunity for someone from the states to come and see what the military in Europe is doing, and military families, because it's never just the Soldier," he said. "It's also good for us to hear that folks back in the states appreciate what's going on over here as well.

"I think it's a win for both. My guess is it made a big impact on him, and it makes a big impact on us when someone that's fairly well known, at least in the Christian community, comes over here and says something."

Holladay began his speech by telling attendees how privileged he felt to be speaking at the prayer breakfast and pointed out how he wished they could join him at Saddleback Church twice a year - Veterans Day and Memorial Day - to join with the 27,000 church members in celebrating service men and women.

"I just wish you could hear people," he said. "It just goes on and on. I know you know people appreciate you. I know that you know, deep down, because you hear from time to time that your service is making a difference.

"But if nothing else, it is my privilege, genuinely, to be here today and just to carry from my church back in California to you here today, our thanks for what you do. And I really feel like anything else that I say pales in comparison to the opportunity to do that. So I thank you, and we applaud you."

He asked everyone at the breakfast to write down three words - priority, power and practice. Then, as he spoke on each of those, he asked everyone to write 'first' next to priority, 'new' next to power and 'daily' next to practice.

"How many first priorities can you have in life'" he asked. "One. When I make that one priority first in my life, everything else falls into place.

Duckworth said the message Holladay brought with him was a useful and powerful one.

"I thought it was interesting," he said. "At first I thought he was going to (focus on) prayer. But then I thought, well, a part of loving God is praying, so I thought the two worked together well, and some very practical advice for us to take home and work on today."

The community members in attendance, including garrison commanders from across Europe along with Installation Management Command-Europe and U.S. Army Europe leaders, were treated to performances by the USAREUR Band Brass Quintet and the Heidelberg Community Chapel Chorus as well as a buffet-style breakfast in the newly renovated Village Pavilion.

The National Prayer Breakfast is followed closely by the National Day of Prayer, this year occurring May 7.

Each of the chapels in the Heidelberg community, including PHV, Mark Twain Village and Nachrichten Kaserne chapels, will be open 6 a.m.-6p.m. for prayer time.

For more information on the upcoming National Day of Prayer, visit www.nationaldayofprayer.org.
(Editor's Note: Kristen Marquez writes for the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)