Executives Take Time For Prayer

Monday, December 4, 2006

Discussions of faith and spirituality replaced chatter about mergers and revenue Thursday morning at the High Tech Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton McLean, an annual event that draws a who's who of local tech players.

Volunteers on the 98-member committee that organizes the breakfast say the turnout of 800 technology professionals reflects the growing number of executives embracing Christianity both in and out of the office. Among the hosts were executives from XM Satellite Radio, Sprint Nextel and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Jerry Leachman, chaplain to the Washington Redskins, opened the nondenominational breakfast with lighthearted jokes about the team's need for divine intervention on the field. Jay Coughlan, former chief executive of Lawson Software, Minnesota's largest software company, shared the story of his rise to success, his fall into depression, guilt and imprisonment, and the faith that formed as a result.

The breakfast is open to all religions, organizers say. "It's true Christian outreach. No one gets excluded," said Ardell Fleeson, who's been a host of the event for the past four years.

On the way out of the Hilton ballroom, attendees could pick up a paperback Bible and recordings of speakers from prior years. These include Gary McCollum, now vice president and region manager for Cox Communications in Hampton Roads, and April Young, senior vice president and managing director of Comerica Bank's Mid-Atlantic technology and life sciences division.

The event echoes similar gatherings in other cities and industries, as well as the National Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill. Next year, local real estate professionals say they plan to hold a prayer breakfast of their own.

-- Kim Hart

© 2006 The Washington Post Company