In 1985, Bob Nickle, David Ripsom and Bob Townsend, a group of business men from the Wilmington area, attended the White House Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. They were so impressed with the intent and impact of the event that, upon their return home, they determined to hold a similar event in Wilmington. With the advice and direction of Dr. Russ Cadle, the New Castle County Leadership Prayer Breakfast was born. The premier event was held in 1986 with Dr. Richard Halverson, Chaplain of the United States Senate, as the first speaker and with 500 people in attendance.
The original Statement of Purpose:
New Castle County is nearing the 350th anniversary of the landing on its shores of its European founders. Since that time the County has grown into a strong central presence for surrounding communities and a prosperous business center, reflecting a strong tradition of leadership.
That leadership has also been marked from the County’s first days with spiritual concern and growth. Beginning with the first church established in New Castle County in 1638, the County has been a central religious force on the Delmarva Peninsula. It was a primary participant in the region’s early and developmental roles of several of the country’s major denominations. Today that spiritual heritage has grown into a diverse and vibrant faith community throughout our County.
We gather in the trust spirit of Jesus Christ to discover how we can be more effective as men and women with leadership responsibilities here in the County. We join with others in all the fifty states sharing similar breakfasts over the year to seek the Lord’s guidance and strength in the conduct of our business, professional and community life together.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6
Over the years, Delaware’s federal, state and local political leaders have been invited and have regularly participated in the Prayer Breakfast. Attendance steadily grew, and in 2002, with more and more people attending from across the State, the event was renamed the Delaware Leadership Prayer Breakfast.
Since its inception, the Prayer Breakfast has been run by a group of volunteer Steering Committee members made up of Christian business men and women who contribute significant time and resources to ensure the success of the event. The ticket price of the breakfast is set to cover the expenses of the event. If revenues exceed expenses, a contribution is made to Friendship Ministries, in honor of the initiative of Dr. Russ Cadle as one of the founding members, and in support of the follow-up Bible studies that he leads in the area.
2022 - Dr. Francis S. Collins - Chief Science Advisor to the U.S. President
2019 - U.S. Senator James Lankford (OK)
2018 - Dr. Daniel L. Dreisbach, Best-Selling Author, Historian & Professor at American University
2017 – Pat Williams, Orlando Magic SVP, General Mgr ‘83 World Champion 76’ers
2016 – Eric Metaxas – Author & Nationally Syndicated Radio Host
2015 – David Akers – NFL Kicker, Pro Bowler and Record Holder
2014 – Norman E. Miller – Chairman of Interstate Batteries
2013 – Mark Farner – Rock Musician and Songwriter
2012 – Emily Colson – Artist, Autism Advocate, Author
2011 – Rich Gannon – NFL MVP Football Player & Commentator
2010 – Robert Burris – Chairman, Burris Logistics
2009 – H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr. – President, Huizenga Holdings, Inc.
2008 – Anne Beiler – Founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
2007 – Carol Kent – Author & Women of Faith Speaker
2006 – Barry C. Black, Ph.D., D.Min. – Chaplain, United States Senate
2005 – Bill McCartney – Founder of Promise Keepers & College Football Coach
2004 – Wintley Phipps – Vocal Artist & Founder of U.S. Dream Academy
2003 – Reggie White – NFL Hall of Fame Football Player
2002 – Hon. Connie Mack – U.S. Senator (ret.)
2001 – Dr. Ben Carson – Neurosurgeon
2000 – Joe Gibbs – NFL Coach and NASCAR Team Owner
1999 – Hon. Kay Coles James – University Dean and Government Official
1998 – Archie Dunham – CEO Conoco
1997 – Guy Rice Doud – National Teacher of the Year
1996 – Carolyn Blish – Artist
1995 – Hon. John Ashcroft – U.S. Senator
1994 – Jeffrey Comment – CEO Helzberg Diamonds
1993 – J. Douglass Holladay – CEO One To One Foundation
1992 – Alonzo McDonald – CEO Avenir Group
1991 – Foster S. Friess – Founder & Chairman Friess Associates
1990 – Fred Fetterolf – Chairman ALCOA Aluminum
1989 – Dr. Lloyd Stephens – Chief of Surgery, Presbyterian Hospital and Matt Darwin - Philadelphia Eagles
1988 – Hon. William Armstrong – U.S. Senator and Reggie White – Philadelphia Eagles
1987 – Jeffrey Comment – CEO John Wanamaker, Inc.
1986 – Dr. Richard Halverson – Chaplain, U.S. Senate