By Shelley Grieshop
A former area pastor and president of the Celina City School board will deliver the opening prayer before President Bush's speech in Troy on Saturday.
The Rev. Dr. James C. Wilson II, currently the senior pastor at Troy United Methodist Church, received the surprise invitation Saturday to stand on the platform with the president to give the invocation.
"I thought my wife was joking when she told me what they wanted me to do," said Wilson, 40, who admits to being a "little nervous" already.
Wilson was asked by Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal (a member of the Republican party) to do the honors.
"It's an opportunity of a lifetime," Wilson added. The downtown circle intersection, where the president is to speak late Saturday morning, was closed to traffic already this morning, Wilson said. The location is just one block from the church.
"It's like having the president coming to your front yard," he said.
Tickets to the event ask visitors to be in place by 10:30 a.m., although the time of Bush's appearance has not yet been formally announced, Wilson said.
"I've been told the White House releases those details within 48 hours of (the president's) arrival," he added.
Troy is just one stop of several including Lima and Toledo, where the president will make a campaign speech this weekend.
Wilson said he's not been instructed what to do or where to stand during the opening prayer, but is carefully choosing an appropriate prayer for the event.
Wilson was senior pastor at Bethany United Methodist Church in Celina from 1994 to 2001, before leaving for the same position at the Troy church.
He was president of the school board during his last year in Celina and is currently a member of the Troy City Schools board of education.