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  1. Why do public events need to be opened with invocations in the first place? and why do they need to be conducted by religious folk? The concepts of “God” and “higher powers” don’t resonate with everyone, so you’ll always be excluding people. I can’t be the only one who mentally checks out during just about every invocation I’ve had to sit through because I don’t connect with the inevitably religious tone.

    But if you must have some sort of ritual opening, then why not have a student take the lead? Have them invoke on their fellow students’ behalf their own powers of focus, community, kindness, respect and fairness, to help them with their schoolwork and relations with their peers and teachers. Then have a teacher invoke on behalf of their fellow teachers their powers of patience, humor, dedication to teaching and strength of spirit to assist with their monumental task of teaching (and so much more!) our children. Have a parent invoke the various strengths and characteristics necessary for all the administrators, special ed teachers, social workers, tutors, maintenance and cafeteria staff, bus drivers, parents and more who shepherd our children from sunrise to sunset, to get them to school, keep them in school, feed them, help them feel good about themselves and their ability to learn.

    This kind of “invocation” would be much more inclusive and relatable, and might go a longer way to helping everyone feel more energized and ready to face the school year. Or maybe that’s just me?

  2. This “controversy” is a sign of our divided times. The audience was composed of adults, all capable of grasping the message conveyed by Rev Nabors’ brief speech and either being inspired by it or not, each to their own experience. This event is hardly rises to a government forcing organized religion on its citizens.

    More important is we worry if D65 is producing outstanding educational outcomes for its students. That means providing all of them a basic, granite-solid foundation in reading, writing, math, and science. With such a foundation all of our kids and grandkids can find success in their secondary, post-high school education and then finally in any of later life’s pathways wherever they may lead. Keep the eye on the prize, community. Set high academic performance goals, empower teachers, and provide the resources to achieve these goals.

    1. This reads to me like “hey community look the other way while the administration does things they’re not supposed to be doing” — This type of attitude is how we get a D65 budget for 2026 showing a loss of almost $10mm and a budget for 2027 showing a loss of $13mm, with no clear way to make up the difference (hint: those cuts are coming from your kids). If you want to have and maintain high quality education, you have to advocate for it instead of just “keeping an eye on the prize”

  3. From my read this is basically an “l’m sorry” followed by “but i’m really not sorry” letter. I guess the Reverend is sorry that he caused another uproar for Dr. Horton but nothing else. I would say that having members of the clergy speak at public school events is a bad idea. I believe in the separation of church and state. And i believe in the U.S. Constitution.

  4. I thought it was a lovely invocation and I am an atheist. I am very sorry the Nabors, the reverend and his daughter, were criticized for this. Don’t we all acknowledge there is (a) power beyond us? Who/what would you rather be “called upon” in an “invocation” — I’d like to know.

  5. Thank you for this excellent essay, Rev. Dr. Nabors. Your deep respect for all people shines through, and is a model for us all. I agree the only reason this non-controversy became a controversy is the heightened scrutiny surrounding Supt. Horton. So, in one sense, it is a shame you had to write it at all. But in another, it is a (dare I say) blessing since from this tempest in the teacup you were able to pour forward such wisdom.

  6. Dear Pastor Nabors
    Thank you for clarification and genuine sharing of the thoughtfulness you used when composing the invocation. By the vehemence of the complaints I had wondered if it was an exclusively Christian prayer. That seemed strange because
    I have been to many events that you opened and have always experienced an inclusive genuine message. Please don’t give up on Evanston. We need you.
    Can I say “blessings” to you?

  7. I know Rev. Nabors felt like he had to “apologize to the Evanston community for having to hear another “not so positive” story about District 65”, but when are we as a community going to have the hard but necessary conversation about D65 being a toxic community that doesn’t place our kids interests first?

  8. This is a fantastic op-ed; thank you for taking the time to write this Dr. Nabors. I think the work you’ve done in our community is fantastic.

    I think the J.K Rowling quote you mention is an excellent example of the problems in our community. Are people who did important things but held regressive views something we can/should teach? Can you be anti-racist and say positive things about Abraham Lincoln? What about John Evans? I encourage you to read the District 65 Stolen Land Pledge they read at the beginning of every meeting, which sets the tone for the district’s position on this. Social media and the Trump era obliterated the sense of nuance in our community.

    I think a lot of community members (parents and teachers) felt left out of the process of developing equity curriculum for our district. The Board (we elected) made the decision and hired Dr. Horton to carry it out. I think he’s doing his best and has made some mistakes. I believe his apology here goes a long way.

    If you read the MIRACLES platform or most of the content, I think the community would be okay with it. But we were never asked and when we did ask or push back, we were told we had “white rage,” and when our feelings were hurt, we were told we had “white fragility.” Teachers and parents want to be part of the change, not talked down to and left feeling humiliated. The change must come from the top down (Dr. Horton) and the bottom up (the community). Saying “Perhaps that is the fate of those who bring change to communities” feels nihilistic. Why not engage the community in this change? Use the power of rhetoric and language to embrace the community in this change; this worked for Lincoln, Washington, and the figures you mention.

    Lots of my son’s friends have left the community – both white and black friends because of the drama in District 65. They’re not coming back. His class this year has 15 students in a room that once held almost 30. Enrollment doesn’t look good. It saddens me.

    I hope we can elect a new board in Spring to help heal some of these rifts. It’s their job to do that, not Dr. Hortons and they do not seem up to the job.

  9. This is the equivalent of the “I’m sorry you feel that way” apology. Basically, sorry not sorry. Nabors isn’t at fault though. His job is to proselytize when given the opportunity. The question that really needs to be answered is why would members of the clergy be invited to speak at a public school event? And why were 2 priests standing in front of Nichols on the first day of school greeting children? This is the same district that cancelled Halloween but asks children to bring in photos of deceased loved ones to put at an alter for day of the dead – so I guess no one should be surprised.