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Ask A Pastor – August 24, 2016

Ask A Pastor

By Rev. John Campbell

United Presbyterian, Oakdale

Election years can be volatile, unpredictable, and filled with heated political rhetoric. And these days, there always seems to be pastors that are voicing their opinions. Thus the question for this month: “As a pastor, what do you feel your personal involvement in politics should be?”

Let me begin by making a comment about how I was raised. My father spent twenty-seven years in the U.S. Navy. Raising from the enlisted ranks to a line officer, he was always conscious of his position of service. He also was a dedicated Christian. So by example I was taught that service to God and country was very important. Yet campaigning and politics were not something that we did. I am not saying that he did not have opinions but that for the most part they were private. I am still influenced by his life in participating in the process of voting and more importantly in praying for this country.

Now when I was ordained to be a minister of Word and Sacrament, it was a call to preach the word of God. To preach is a humble and holy task. The source of my preaching is the Word of God and the message is that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son for our salvation.

Of course, I have opinions and in private conversation I will at times voice these thoughts. Yet I have to remember that as a pastor to a congregation, I will have people with a variety of thoughts on various issues, especially on politics. As Christians we are to respect each other, remembering that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

As the Apostle Paul has written it is God that has instituted government: “there is no authority except that which God has established.” Though there is no general elections in the Bible, there is the command to pray for those in leadership. So it is also appropriate to pray for those seeking election. My prayer is that God’s will be done. In my worship services I pray that God will rule and overrule the decisions that are made in the houses of government so that we may have righteousness, justice and peace in our country.

One pastor has given four things that a pastor can do to encourage good citizenship:

First, encourage members to vote. We do not tell them who to vote for but to do their duty of voting.

Secondly, and very importantly, challenge church members to pray for candidates and for those elected to leadership. In praying for those running for election it is good to pray for their families as well.

Thirdly, challenge members to listen carefully to the candidates, to engage in civil dialogue about the important issues, and to consider campaigning for their preferred candidate.

And fourthly, there is the invitation for members to consider political service as a part of their spiritual calling.

Our prayer is may God’s will be done.