Technical difficulties made for a memorable online invocation in Moore County on Tuesday, proving that the Lord networks in mysterious ways.
The Rev. Rick Martindale of First Presbyterian Church in Carthage had been asked to open this month’s meeting of the county commissioners, conducted over the videoconferencing app WebEx, with a prayer, but an audio issue caused the minister to miss his cue.
For several minutes, the 26 other people participating in the meeting watched as Martindale waited patiently in front of his computer screen for a signal to begin the invocation. He appeared oblivious to the commissioners’ increasingly creative attempts to get his attention.
After repeatedly calling out Martindale’s name to no avail, Commissioner Frank Quis scribbled “PRAY” on a sheet of notebook paper and held it up to the camera. Misty Leland, attorney for the county, later did the same.
Commissioner Catherine Graham, who lives in Carthage, at one point offered to step outside her home and “scream” at the preacher.
“Being a Baptist, I can say this: he must be part-Baptist,” Graham joked.
About four minutes into the meeting, a visibly amused Quis instructed everyone on the call to point at their cameras. The grid of heads surrounding Martindale quickly filled with outstretched index fingers and the sound of overlapping laughter.
“If that doesn’t get his attention, I don’t know what will,” Quis said.
It didn't. But Laura Williams, clerk to the commissioners, eventually reached Martindale by phone and reported back to the board.
“He’s having a difficult time hearing us, but he’s going to go ahead and offer the prayer,” Williams said. “And we know God will hear it even if we can’t.”
The commissioners were about to pray with Martindale in silence when his microphone started working unexpectedly.
“Almighty and loving God, we gather acknowledging that our true strength and our true joy does not always come from our abilities and gifts, but indeed it comes from yours,” he said, fighting back his own laughter. “We are definitely frail, sinful beings and we definitely can’t always hear each other all the time. Case in point: today.”
Watch highlights from Tuesday's incident below.