Three state lawmakers from northern Hill and Blaine counties were sent off to Helena Sunday with a commissioning ceremony at Fifth Avenue Christian Church.
The church's pastor, Rowlie Hutton, was sworn in Monday as a state senator. Wendy Warburton, a member of the church, was sworn in for a second term in the state House, while Kris Hansen took the oath of office for the first time as a representative. All three are Republicans.
During the ceremony, Hutton said, scripture was read and the congregation was encouraged to come forward and pray for the three lawmakers.
Hutton said the ceremony emphasized the "Christian roots we have in the United States,"
"It showed that we will serve not only Montana, but the kingdom of God," he said.
Pastor Charles Moody of Abundant Life Ministries, Hansen's pastor, took part in the service.
Hutton said his church held a similar service two years ago, just before Warburton took her seat for the first time.
After the congregation prayed for the lawmakers, he said, Randy Hinebauch, a member of Fifth Avenue Christian, and Moody read scripture.
Hutton said Saint Paul, in his epistles, several times urged followers to pray for their government.
In addition, Hutton said, members of the congregation were given the names of every member of the Legislature — Republicans and Democrats — and urged to pray for them.
The members' names were divided into six,. every day, people will pray for one-sith of the lawmakers, he said.
Hutton said he was encouraged by the support he received from the congregation.
"The members have been very supportive of me all along," he said.
Warburton and Hansen went directly to Helena after the 9 a.m. ceremony, Hutton said. He followed them after the 11 a.m.service.
Members took the oath of office at noon, Monday, and officers of both houses were elected.
The rest of the day was "family day," he said.
Relatives from Idaho and Washingtonv State were on hand, Hutton said. His son will travel from Houghton, N.Y., where he is in college.
In addition to the three lawmakers from northern Hill County, State Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, and State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, will take their seats. Belcourt was re-elected in November. Windy Boy is halfway through his first four-year term.