Following the filing of a federal lawsuit seeking to block opening prayers at County Commission meetings, the commission is formulating a policy on the prayers.
It will include compiling a "Congregations List" of local ministers to deliver the prayers at agenda and regular meetings.
Also, County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said the Alliance Defense Fund will represent the county in the lawsuit at no charge.
The policy was established by the county attorney's office and Commissioner Jim Fields, who is an attorney.
He said he believes the policy is in line with current court rulings on prayer, including the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Marsh v. Chambers that upheld prayer by a paid chaplain at the Nebraska Legislature.
The County Commission staff will compile and periodically update the Congregations List. The staff will mail an invitation to local church leaders to be included on the list.
Those on the list "shall be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis to deliver the invocation."
The policy says, "The staff shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that a variety of eligible invocation speakers are scheduled for the commission meetings."
The policy "is intended to be and shall be applied in a way that is all-inclusive of every diverse religion congregation in Hamilton County," it was stated.
The prayers will have a limit of five minutes and are not to be for converting anyone to a particular religion, it was stated.
The policy says they are for "the benefit and blessing of the commission."
Commissioners announced the new policy after a private session with attorney Taylor.
At the end of the commission meeting earlier, a variety of speakers gave statements for and against public prayer.
Attorney Robin Flores, who filed the federal lawsuit, said the county policy is based on one from Forsyth County, N.C. He said that plan has been struck down by the courts.