ASHLAND -- The annual Ashland Community Prayer Breakfast Thursday, May 7 that was to feature Alan (Al) Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’ has been canceled, Pastor John Bouquet of Bethel Baptist Church announced Tuesday evening. 

He explained how the Ashland County Ministerial Association canceled the nearly 40 year tradition due to the statewide orders restricting groups, which relate to COVID-19 in Ohio. 

The prayer breakfast has been held in association with the National Day of Prayer since 1981 when dozens of Ashland County churches teamed to launch the event with intentions to pray over all local leaders -- mayors, township trustees, school board members, the dog warden and others.

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It started small with more clergy than city and county representatives in the room, but has later swelled to include more than 700 in attendance where approximately half are local leaders.  

Securing Robertson was a significant moment for the Ministerial Association. The oldest son of Phil and Miss Kay Robertson, Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’ is a longtime pastor and one of the founders of Duck Commander. 

“Obviously, he’s a prominent voice, and Alan will be by every means the biggest name we’ve had,” Bouquet said in January. “This will give us an opportunity... to get the most people in the room and meet spiritual needs.” 

Last year, 58 of Ashland County’s 104 churches financially contributed to the event. More than 40 local businesses gave, too. 

The upcoming event was anticipated to cost approximately $30,000. As COVID-19 and the regulations implemented because of it continue to impact local, often small businesses, Bouquet said, the association didn't deem it appropriate to ask for financial contributions for this celebration. 

A smaller prayer breakfast may be held approximately a month after limits on gatherings are lifted. It will be an occasion to rejoice, but will not include Robertson, Bouquet said.

He's hopeful Robertson could attend next Spring's event. 

In the coming weeks and months, a group of religious leaders intends to gather -- in whatever numbers are allowed and in compliance with social distancing recommendations --  to pray every Sunday at 2 p.m. for the wellbeing and protection of Ashland, the United States and the world. The first of these gatherings was held this past Sunday at Ashland City Hall.