BAKER, La (BRPROUD)- As the new year approaches, many officials including Mayor Darnell Waites reflect on 2021, including the COVID-19 crises, recent Omicron surges and serving the community;

As we reach the end of 2021, I would like to reflect on the on the past 12 months. Although we all continue to face challenges, such as those presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and our ongoing efforts to ensure an equitable society for all we stand together, determined to succeed. As many of our neighbors have faced tragedy over the past year, please join me in keeping in our prayers all who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. We pray you are surrounded by love and compassion and lift you up. We pray for our service members and their families, and thank them for their service and sacrifice as they continue to strive to uphold and protect the ideals of our democracy. I remain thankful for the character, courage, resilience, and resolve in each of you working tirelessly, serving our community; those who teach, heal, comfort, protect and serve, volunteer, and work every day to make our City the best it can be. Your efforts show how we succeed when we share our gifts, especially when we work with appreciation and gratitude in our hearts and goodwill for our neighbors. This is community at its finest and I am humbled to be a part of it, working alongside you as we take care to look out for each other and set aside our differences in pursuit of a greater good for all.

Waites continues to express his deepest faith and intentions for the new year;

As I reflect, I am reminded of the things we all care about which unite us at the holidays and every day of the year – these are faith, family and friendship. Second only to Christ, the gift of family is God’s greatest gift to us, for it’s within the family of faith that we experience the fullness of God’s love. Just as family is a gift from God our family grows with our friendships. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “…friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” Through our friends, we practice care and compassion for others and learn to put them before our own needs. We learn to see others through God’s eyes and simultaneously we receive the comfort of knowing our friends are there for us.

In the coming year, I pray that we continue to be unified in our resolve to work for the betterment of our community and that we take the words found in 1 Peter 4:9-11 to heart: 1 Peter 4:9-11 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.