This is the second of four articles about the Virginia Renewal pastor’s conference held at the end of March in Richmond.
By Scott Spages
The Virginia Renewal … Spring 2017 …. pastors and pews for America …
After this eventful lunch, we adjourned to a conference room for the Issachar Training. Issachar was, per the Book of Exodus, a son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Issachar. The name possibly means “man of hire” or “there is reward,” from Hebrew. For American Renewal, the men and women of Issachar are called to be agents of change, by running for public office. Who do you know that should be more involved, or even a candidate for public office?
Pastors were encouraged to either run for office, or find out who in their congregation is called to. The Issachar Training provided the following speakers who had either run for public office, or ran campaigns. We heard from: Chad Connelly, Pastor Rob McCoy, Pastor Mark Harris, and Paul Curtman of Victory Enterprises, the organization that helps shepherd candidates through the process.
Rob McCoy, senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Thousand Oaks and a City Councilman in that city, has walked the walk and talked the talk. Pastor Rob was born and raised in Coronado, California, now the front lines of our battle for American Exceptionalism. Being from a conservative Naval officer father and an activist Republican mother, he was exposed to grassroots politics and duty to country from his youth. He walked precincts and saw the real meaning of the adage, “All politics is local.” A highlight was his meeting with then Governor Reagan, whose personal well wishes to Rob are still alive today. He joked that little did Reagan know, but he was endorsing Rob for future office. He has honored his upbringing and Reagan by running for office.
Pastor Rob preached that we are called to be salt and the original Hebrew word for salt is the same as that for salary. Salary is currency and therefore he pointed, “we are the currency of our culture.” He exhorted us to “mobilize our communities” and noted that since his election, in Thousand Oaks, CA, the “National Day of Prayer is no longer 150 people on the lawn, (but) now 1000 people” praying fervently.
Chad Connelly, who is currently running for the open Congressional seat in South Carolina [the seat vacated by Mike Mulvaney, who left to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget] was next. Chad has served as the Director of Faith Based Outreach for the Republican National Committee for the last four years, had been the Chairman of the GOP in SC, and previously ran for the State Senate. Growing up with humble roots, from the small [400-500 citizens] town of Prosperity, SC, he said growing up he had a “drug problem.” He said his “daddy ‘drug’ him to church, and ‘drug’ him to youth group.” Chad went on to serve as a deacon, minister, and Sunday school teacher.
With no political background, Chad went to Clemson where he got an engineering degree while working four jobs, which included Army ROTC and the National Guard. He recalled being “booed in 1981” as a remnant of the Vietnam angst. But he said shortly thereafter how the leadership of Ronald Reagan changed the morale of the country as Reagan had a “no apologies for America” attitude. He began to take notice to politics.
He was finally compelled to get involved in the 90s when he heard the liberals say “character doesn’t matter” regarding Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances and double talk. Now he eats, sleeps, and drinks politics.
He concluded that his number one motivation was “obedience to God” and ended with a cautionary tale, from Dr. Jerry Falwell, whose voice he echoed, “Dr. Falwell said that ‘Christians quit. They quit when they win and they quit when they lose.’” But there was no quit as this conference and let us purpose to ensure that we overcome Falwell’s warning.
Mark Harris, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, NC, spoke next. He detailed the political battles North Carolinians have been fighting from the passing of the ‘marriage amendment’ in 2011-12, to the recent ‘bathroom battles’ and why he was compelled to get involved. Tragically, it was a sad day, as the North Carolina legislature, with a new democrat Governor driving the process, had voted to repeal the law that would require one to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate [as I wrote this article the NC Governor signed in to law the repeal]. Elections have consequences.
Pastor Harris helped mobilize the 1.3 million Baptists in NC, in 2011, they being the largest Protestant denomination in the state. Locking arms with other Protestants, Catholics, and others, while being outspent 3 to 1 and out-manned 5 to 1, they were able to pass the marriage Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman in NC. The day after that election, then President Obama went back on his word and declared that he now believed that same-sex marriage was appropriate.
He preached Nehemiah 2: 17-18 and noted three things we should glean from it:
First, there is an emergency and that is something that requires immediate attention.
Second, we must be accountable to God. Not members, elders, or boards, or deacons, or the secular community.
And third, we must be relentless. It is time to get busy.
Pastor Harris ran for Congress and lost to a well-entrenched incumbent by a razor thin 132 votes. He noted that we could not ignore facts such as “sixty million abortions, the dissolution of Biblical marriage, and men in women’s restrooms and vice versa.” He exhorted the pastors and their wives, “this hour belongs to us!”
Finally, we were trained by Paul Curtman with Victory Enterprises [VE]. VE recruits and trains legislative candidates, leads grassroots/grasstops campaign efforts, conducts voter identification and turnout, polling and media messaging development. Curtman a former U.S. Marine infantryman was elected to the Missouri legislature by starting from scratch and knocking on 30,000 doors with just his wife and a few friends, so he has practical experience. An opportunity to enlist to run was offered.
One pastor, a first-time attendee, said to me, “I doubt if I would run for office but I can already think of one member of my 150-member church, who would make an excellent candidate.” There are over 500,000 elected positions in America, who’s next?
We then had a break until dinner.