One of my early heroes, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal by the US Congress on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. A lawyer and politician from a small town in western Kansas, Dole represented Kansas in Congress from 1961 to 1966. He served as the Republican Leader of the US Senate from 1985 until 1996. He previously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1997. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States.
As a junior in college, I chaired a committee in my social fraternity called the Beta Forum Committee. I was responsible for inviting distinguished guests to the fraternity house to engage the brothers in conversations of special interest. I invited Senator Dole to be one of our speakers. I remember reaching out to shake his hand, only to discover that his right hand was paralyzed from a life-threatening injury that he sustained on the front lines in Italy in World War II. Although I can’t remember the specifics of our discussion that evening, I do remember that he said nothing about his war injury or his struggle with a disability. I do remember taking note that his disability did not define who he was. I was thus not surprised when he later became a co-sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act that was enacted in 1990. As person after person spoke in his honor on Wednesday, I was once again struck by how his leadership was marked by a willingness to achieve legislative goals that required bi-partisanship and a willingness to engage the tough issues with civil discourse. Along with so many others, I admire Senator Dole for his character, integrity, honesty, and respect for all persons.
Yes, character, integrity, honesty, and respect for all persons. Although there is debate about what words were used in the recent White House discussion of immigration reform, I feel compelled to re-state North Avenue’s deep Christian belief in the love of God in Jesus Christ that shines on every single person, each of whom is created in the image of God. “For God so love the WORLD that he gave his only son....” (John 3:16). Words that disparage any people group are deeply felt within our own community—members of North Avenue represent nationalities from around the world (including the countries specifically mentioned in that White House discussion). These beloved brothers and sisters enrich our lives, our church family, and our country every single day. Even in this divisive political climate, may this church continue to be a place of love, welcome, kindness, character, integrity, honesty, and respect for all persons. I draw your attention to a letter from the Office of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) to the church’s mission partners in Africa.
We are blessed to have among us leaders who embody the values such as the ones exhibited by Senator Dole. For the first time ever, we will observe the Ordination and Installation of our newest class of deacons and elders in each of the three worship services. We have officers who normally attend each of the services, so they will be ordained and installed in the service they normally attend. This is an important occasion of praying over those whom God has raised up in our midst to share in guiding the direction of our congregation.
Also this Sunday, I encourage you to consider attending an important Parenting Conversation on how to speak with our children about sex in this challenging time in our cultural history. The conversation will be co-led by long-time NAPC member and elder, Bill McClatchey, MD, and his daughter, Christy Gituku, also a NAPC member and a respected therapist in the Atlanta area. Anyone and everyone is invited to attend.
See you Sunday!