On the west steps of the Indiana Statehouse, hundreds of people gathered in the cold to mark the next chapter in Indiana history.
Gov.-elect Mike Pence stood with his family next to a podium, waiting to be inaugurated. As the ceremony started and the crowd went silent, Pence’s longtime pastor, the Rev. Charles Lake, stepped to the microphone.
Lake, a Greenwood resident, gave the opening invocation of the inauguration. He prayed for the success and blessing of all Indiana residents and expressed his hope that Pence would keep his faith prominent in his decision-making for the next four years.
“May the day come when we look at the accomplishments of this administration, and hear (God) say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servants,’” he said.
Lake’s prayer set the tone for the inaugural ceremony of Pence, his close friend. Lake, who is now retired, was a founding pastor of Community Church of Greenwood, where Pence’s family are members. Their families became good friends.
His daughters baby-sat for Pence’s children. His wife, Vicki, is good friends with Indiana first lady Karen Pence.
While serving on church committees with Pence, Lake said, he always was impressed with the man’s character. He kept that in mind as he wrote the invocation.
“He’s pure gold. He has the highest integrity and is a man who’s principled and stands for American values,” he said. “I know he has cracks in his armor, but I haven’t found them yet.”
Being asked by Pence to deliver the invocation was a tremendous honor, Lake said. But considering how close his family is with the governor’s, it wasn’t too much of a surprise.
This was the first time Lake gave an invocation for a political event. To do it for Indiana’s highest office in front of such a large audience could have been daunting.
But even a few hours before he was scheduled to deliver his remarks, he remained calm.
“You don’t go into this thing to do it extemporaneously. I’m feeling very good about it,” he said. “Mike and I have a great relationship and touch base periodically. I feel at home with what I’m doing.”
His invocation lasted about five minutes, and Lake asked for God’s blessing in looking over Indiana and its residents, as well as helping Pence lead. He prayed for students, soldiers, police and fire officials, and the mentally ill.
With Pence and his family standing to his right, he also touched on politics, imploring God to help Pence remain strong in his beliefs as he governs.
“Help him to be true to his faith and give him the joy of serving unselfishly as he seeks to better the lives of thousands of Hoosiers,” he said. “Help him to choose conviction over compromise, purpose over pride and principles over political practice.”