Briarwood fathers gather to pray for children, school

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

Every Friday morning at 6:15 Maurice Wilhelm and a group of Briarwood Christian School fathers can be found gathered at Hamburger Heaven on U.S. 280, eating breakfast and praying.

Wilhelm is something of a Briarwood patriarch, with nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild either in the Briarwood school system or alums of it. The prayer breakfast started close to 20 years ago, by Wilhelm’s recollection, and he has been the director of the breakfast for the last seven years.

“Up until this year, it has only been a football thing,” Wilhelm said in an April 3 phone interview. “We would do it for the whole football season. A different coach would come every Friday for as long as the team was playing.”

This year, when football season ended, recently hired basketball coach Bobby Kerley approached Wilhelm to see if they could continue the breakfast through the winter. Wilhelm naturally obliged, and when basketball season ended the decision was made to continue meeting and praying every Friday morning through the spring sporting season as well.

“It gives dads an opportunity to come together in corporate prayer and lift up their kids,” Wilhelm said. “It’s a chance for them to pray for their children and the school and other things that are going on.”

However the invitation is not only extended to fathers of current athletes. “I don’t have anyone playing sports except one grandson who plays soccer and one grandson in the band,” said Wilhelm. “We’ve got guys that are coming that had their kids graduate five to 10 years ago. It’s really a unique group.”

In the football season, the prayer breakfast draws a crowd of between 25 and 30 regulars. In the springtime the numbers have been lower, between 10 and 15 usually. However Wilhelm isn’t concerned over the drop in numbers.

“Once they come once, they usually come back again,” Wilhelm said.

The prayer breakfast will discontinue at the end of the school year, but they will be at Hamburger Heaven on Friday mornings until then, and once again in the fall when football season is under way.