From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:40:10


                                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A letter urging Presbyterians to pray for the 
104th U.S. Congress and to advocate for government policies that 
"will not put those who are already most vulnerable in further 
jeopardy" has been sent to all Presbyterian congregations by the 
Rev. Robert W. Bohl, moderator of the General Assembly. 
       The letter, dated Jan. 17, includes a prayer for the president 
and new Congress.   
       The Congregational Ministries Division has asked that the 
letter be read and the prayer be used by Presbyterian congregations 
in their worship services. 
       In addition, the Presbyterian Washington Office has prepared 
a packet of resources for groups that wish to study the "Contract 
with America" in church settings.  The packet is available by 
calling the Washington Office at (202) 543-1126. 
       The full text of Bohl's letter:  
"Dear Presbyterian Sisters and Brothers:  
       "I am profoundly concerned about the state of our nation and 
its role in the world. There are momentous challenges facing our 
leaders as the new year begins; and I believe our Presbyterian 
understanding of Christian responsibility requires us to be 
involved in addressing those challenges. We can begin by offering 
our prayers for President Clinton and for the members of the 104th 
Congress and move to voice our concerns and offer our counsel to 
those who are making decisions that affect us all.  
       "You are all aware of the major shift that has occurred in the 
U.S. Congress, the attention now being given to "The Contract with 
America" and the struggle on the part of the President to find the 
appropriate way to exercise leadership in this new dispensation. 
Added to those realities is the determination of the new 
congressional leadership to achieve as much change as possible 
within the first 100 days of this session of Congress.  
       "There is every indication that much that is being proposed 
will have a profound impact on the poor in our country, including 
many who are employed, but who live only a pay check or hospital 
bill away from homelessness. I hope you will pray fervently that 
all who now serve in high office at both the federal and state 
level will commit themselves to decisions that do not put those 
who already are most vulnerable in further jeopardy. The Contract 
with America mentions responsibility to God. As Christians, we must 
set before all our leaders their responsibility to promote the 
common good. We must remind them of the clear biblical message that 
God judges harshly those nations that ignore the cries of the poor 
and the vulnerable and we must hold our leaders to that standard 
of accountability. Indeed, it is worth noting that in the scene in 
Matthew 25:31ff, so familiar to all of us, it is the nations that 
are called to stand before the judgment seat of God and answer for 
their treatment of the poor.  
       "Moreover, we ourselves must remember that our loyalty to this 
nation notwithstanding, our primary citizenship is in a community 
of faith which is not limited by the borders of the United States.  
With much sentiment for greater isolation or more narrow 
involvement in the world, it is essential that we, as U.S. 
Christians, challenge our leaders to see "American national 
interest" in much broader terms than what is politically expedient, 
economically productive or militarily strategic.    
       "We must get involved and we must get involved now on the 
basis of the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not on the basis 
of political partisanship or personal bias.  I urge you, as you 
pray for our leaders, also to become informed about the issues that 
are facing our leaders. Act quickly to express your concerns and 
ideas to the President and to your representatives in Congress.  
Join with others in your congregation, community or region to 
strengthen the impact of your message to our leaders that they must 
work together to restore wholeness to our fragmented nation and 
offer relief to those who are suffering in our own country and 
around the world.   
       "May God bless you in these and all your efforts to bear 
witness to the love and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ."  
Robert W. Bohl, Moderator   
206th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  
                         A Prayer for the President and the 104th Congress  
Have mercy, O God, on this nation we love.  
Show compassion on all for whom poverty, terror, disease, and 
     injustice are constant companions, and give comfort to those 
     who live in the constant fear that such calamities will come upon 
Deliver us from both complacency and a sense of helplessness in the face of 
     great need. 
Challenge and equip us to turn our compassion into action 
     for all your children who suffer. 
Strengthen those who commit their lives to ordering our common life. 
Give all in authority -- especially the President and the members of the 
     104th Congress -- the wisdom and strength to know your will 
     and to serve your people as lovers of truth and justice. 
And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the 
     abundance of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 
                          # # # 

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  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
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