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Local churches speak about Jesus, politics

St. Stephen’s, North Park offer series on politics, religion

Posted: October 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Rev. Kelly O'Connell speaking to congregation during a blessing of the animals.

 

Two-and-a-half weeks until the election and the community is buzzing with political questions and partisan affiliations. Two local churches are addressing religion and politics, two topics that many people feel should never intersect.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and North Park Community Church both are hosting sermon series focused on many of this year’s political issues, but from a Christian point of view.

Followers of Christ

St. Stephen’s is hosting a Sunday morning discussion series every Sunday in October taught by Rev. Kelly O’Connell and Harriet Miles. The series covers some political issues, from the lens of a Christian, and is based on the book “Jesus for President” by Shane Claiborne.

The series works through the book addressing topics relevant to politics and government. The book emphasizes the idea of empire and whether that idea holds up to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

“If we are really followers of Jesus, then the way we live in the contemporary world is at odds,” said O’Connell. “How do we as faithful Christian people navigate culture and current society in the midst of these contradictions?”

The goal is to hold an open conversation respectful of everyone’s views that is not tied to a specific political platform; instead taking a focus on what the Bible has to say about certain topics and how it applies to today.

“We want to bring it back to the book and what the Bible is telling us about these topics,” she said.

Jill Jensen, member of St. Stephen’s and class attendee, describes the discussion as “thought provoking” as the book presents Jesus as an alternative empire to the current political economics system.

God’s Word

North Park is also presenting a sermon series given by Dr. David White, titled “God and Government.” The series tackles issues concerning government and the Bible. Although White says he doesn’t think the pulpit is the best place for politics, he feels it is important to discuss what the Bible says about certain topics.

“It is my duty to represent God’s word on some of these issues,” White said concerning the more social and moral focused topics surrounding this years election, like abortion and homosexuality, among other topics.

Another topic White will cover is what the Bible says about government on large and small scales, beginning with self-government.

“We are asking for a huge government to care for everyone,” he said. “Personal lives are in disarray and families are falling apart. It starts at a smaller level, people need to self-govern and get their lives in order first.”

“It’s important to help people think through the issues, not tell them how to vote,” he said. “I don’t want people to despair. We’ve lived under blue and red presidents for a long time and can still do what God calls us to do.”

Spiritual voting

Harriet Miles, St. Stephen’s Vestry member, said their discussion focuses on Jesus’ empire versus a worldly empire and ideas of charity, but does not endorse a particular candidate.

“As a Christian we have a different theology to respond to, the authority of Jesus,” she said.

Both churches, while hoping to have open and respectful political discussions are focusing on Biblical teachings about certain topics and properly representing God’s word on each issue.

“A good reminder for people who have a faith commitment is who we choose as a president doesn’t matter as much,” Miles said. “What needs to inform us more than anything else is our spiritual commitment.”

St. Stephen’s “Jesus for President” discussion series meets at 9a.m. On Sunday mornings before church service.

North Park’s services are held Sunday mornings at 9, 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. And can also be watched at www.northpark.com.

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