I was wrong. Prayer walk at the Northfield High School was organized by a student

[Sept 13, 2018: this blog post has been edited to remove the name of the student at her request.]

In the discussion attached to my Sept. 1 blog post, Dan Clites organizes a prayer walk at the Northfield High School; it’s a Trojan Horse, two Northfielders pointed out that the prayer walk was organized by a Northfield High School student.

Brent Bielenberg wrote:

I hesitated to write into this blog, but I did feel that there are some wrong facts in your reporting of the prayer meeting that need to be brought to light.

First, it was not Dan Clites, Rejoice!, or TN that organized this prayer walk at the school. It was a 16 year old junior girl who attends Emmaus that organized it. In fact, the same thing was done last year around the same time of year, also organized by her. She called me (I am the youth pastor at Rejoice!) a week before the date to ask if we would promote it via our email and our website. I believe she called other churches including her own and did the same. She told me it was opened to youth, parents and anyone else who would like to pray for the school. Afterwards, they were invited to her house for a bonfire. I was not there because I forgot (great youth pastor) but it also was not one of my youth leading the group and technically not a Rejoice! youth function.

The only connection she has to TN and Rejoice is that I went to school with her dad. Their family attends Emmaus and they have never attended a TN meeting. This is a pretty typical youth group activity in many cities throughout the US and world…

David Henson wrote:

Griff, I appreciate your blog but you are in left field here. The girl who organized the prayer walk this is a friend of my wife’s and very sweet. Her father has a campus mission to St Olaf…

In retrospect, I should have inquired further once I saw the video of the prayer walk posted on Northfield Patch. The accompanying text to the video got it right:

[Name], a soon-to-be Northfield High School junior, organized a prayer walk Friday night that took place outside of the school.

Several members from various church congregations joined her in praying for the students, teachers and school in the coming year.

My apologies to the student.

[Sept 13, 2018: this blog post has been edited to remove the name of the student at her request.]


  1. john george said:

    Griff- Thanks for the post. You are an honorable man, and I feel privileged to know you.

    September 16, 2011
  2. David Henson said:


    I have been around the Christian community a lot since getting married and I think in general they are less materialistic than average and the media in our country runs on the sponsorship of businesses interesting in selling more “material.” For this reason the media tends to focus on extreme Christian individuals and positions that while minor in Christianity create conflict within society. Homosexuality is a good example. Male homosexuality is mentioned in the bible negatively (female I am not sure is mentioned at all) but is treated no differently than heterosexual promiscuity. Abortion, never addressed specifically in the bible, is another example. These issues are not obsessions at churches and are being shaped as much by the media as by Christians.

    My thought is, in addition to just furthering these stereotypes, the alternative media might want to explore other aspects of Christianity. There are some 38,000 denominations all who have a different focus on the biblical text and live that out in different ways.

    September 16, 2011
  3. Kathie Galotti said:

    It takes courage and humility to admit mistakes. Yay for you, Griff.

    September 16, 2011
  4. David Ludescher said:


    Shouldn’t you be apologizing to Dan Clites for accusing him of setting up a Trojan Horse?

    September 16, 2011
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    David L, I was tempted to apologize to Dan Clites but thus far, have decided to resist that temptation!

    As I previously mentioned, he didn’t mention the student in his website announcement about the prayer walk. Nor did he mention her to me in my 30 minutes of arguing with him at the event. So I’m suspicious.

    I’m convinced that he intends to follow the Elk River/Ed Silvoso/Chuck Ripka/Rick Hereen blueprint for getting his type of prayer into the public schools and other public institutions. If he would totally and publicly disavow this, then I’d be inclined to apologize.

    September 17, 2011
  6. Nancy Amerman said:

    Hey Griff, I am with David on this one. I think it is Dan Clites you owe the apology. But hey, good effort…even if it started with a “I’d apologize..if only he’d….” I just want you to know, I’m rooting for you Griff….I know you can do it. smile.

    September 17, 2011
  7. john george said:

    Griff- Are you really serious about this?

    …getting his type of prayer into the public schools and other public institutions.

    That seems like establishment of a state acceptable religion.

    September 17, 2011
  8. Bruce Morlan said:

    David H. Regarding your characterization of the media.

    Lawyers and the media.

    They are two of a kind.

    Both make their money

    Off conflict and crime.

    Perhaps to have peace.

    We need to be mindful.

    Of their agendas and motives.

    And that they may not be helpful.

    September 18, 2011
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    John, no, sorry for the confusion. I’m not saying that Dan is trying to get any public institutions to officially adopt the practice of prayer.

    The Elk River model is what I’m objecting to.

    September 19, 2011
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey, good to have you chiming in here, Nancy. My intervention at the Goodbye Blue Monday evidently worked!

    I can appreciate your “rooting” for me to apologize to Dan. I sure hope you don’t turn that into a prayer. I’d really be conflicted. 😉

    September 19, 2011
  11. john george said:

    Griff- That is the way I understood your comment, and that is what is raising my eyebrows. It seems that your objection to the Elk River model (actually, it is just the great commission in Matthew) is that prayer and Christian principles are being introduced into the public sector- schools and government. This is simply a response to the vacuum that has been created over the last few decades with the removal of Christianity from the public sector. It is said that nature abhores a vacuum.

    September 19, 2011
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    John, it might be best to continue this discussion in the other thread where I just posted this comment about teaching character education and moral values in public schools.

    But I’m curious about Rick Hereen’s presentation at the recent Transformation Northfield prayer breakfast. Did he address the more recent troubles in Elk River with the bank and at the high school?

    September 20, 2011

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