As midterms near, clergy preach politics and civics lessons
In an effort to draw a sharper contrast between the Republican Party and Democrats, the Rev. Mark Williams is preaching a civics lesson on the National Mall in Washington on Wednesday. Williams, the director of the Center for Christian Studies and Ethics at Emory University, is the only Democrat speaking in the two-day event, a national convening of more than 200 Christian advocates from many denominations.
The Rev. Mark Williams, director of the Center for Christian Studies and Ethics at Emory University, speaks to activists during a National Day of Prayer rally held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Photo: Mark J. Terrill/AP)
His speech Tuesday centered on immigration, and his message seemed aimed at those who would criticize his party. But it made a point in favor of his party during his own history as a Democrat, Williams told Religion News Service in a telephone interview.
“At Emory, we focus on civic life. We are civic people. Civil society is something we work together on — to educate our people on what it means to be American; to think the whole person, not just the left hand or the right hand.”
Williams’ speaking event on the National Mall was in sync with the spirit of this time of year. It was preceded by an open-air prayer event where people prayed in the streets and along the fences, as the city of Washington works to keep the streets clear.
There were two other churches speaking that day. The Rev. Gary Hall, lead pastor of New Covenant Christian Fellowship, is the pastor of First Presbytery Church in Washington, D.C., a nondenominational church that has ties to the Presbyterian Church USA denomination.
He said that while he believes God works in people’s hearts, he’s also “very much involved in my church and in my life. And I take my role as a pastor seriously, but I also am committed to the cause I see in the church.”
Other speakers included the Rev. Tony Evans, pastor of New Covenant Christian Fellowship, and the Rev. Andrew W. Lott, pastor of First Presbytery Church.