Elected to Serve: Canadian Politician Reflects on Faith and Culture
By Carl Stagner
One of the largest Church of God congregations in Canada is East Side Church of God in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Over the years, CHOGnews has highlighted stories of several successful community ministries emanating from the influential church, offering perspective and insight from their lead pastor, Kevin Snyder. But another member of the congregation has also become known for his exemplary leadership and service to the glory of God, though perhaps not in the way one might imagine. In 2019, Jeremy Patzer became an MP—a Member of Parliament—and is proving that faith doesn’t have to be checked at the door to the halls of government.
Though Patzer grew up in a family actively involved in politics, it wasn’t until he became a teenager that this interest was really piqued. “My parents were always active on local boards and municipal government,” he explains. “However, it was my uncle, who was the Member of Parliament for twenty years before I was elected, who inspired me to get involved. I was thirteen when he was elected for the first time, and that really got me interested in federal politics. As I grew older, I started to get involved in campaigns and also served on the board of directors for the constituency association.”
Scientists want to make an impact on the world through discovery and breakthroughs. Doctors want to make a difference by saving lives. Pastors want to make a difference by leading people to Jesus Christ. Jeremy Patzer has discovered a unique opportunity to make a difference in the political realm.
“We have begun to see a swing in politics over the last decade, where there is more of a social impact and lens applied to all that we do,” Patzer reflects. “More and more, that lens is colored in a way that has unintentionally led to the degradation of our society. This is largely due to the lack of a biblical worldview, and allows society to be broken into all of these various groups. Our culture is so focused on the things that separate us, whether it be ethnicity, skin color, religion, sexuality, etc. The opportunity of my generation is to bring the focus back to the things that unite us, and I believe the gospel message shows us how to do that, even for people who don’t necessarily have the same faith or beliefs that we do as Christians.”
Though Patzer didn’t grow up in the Church of God, as a young adult he found the Church of God congregation to be Christ-centered and loving, biblically grounded and mission-minded. “Our family has attended East Side ever since we moved back to Swift Current in 2015…. When we first started attending, Pastor Kevin remembered who we were and was great at getting us connected with some of the other couples our age in the church. More importantly, it is a church that is grounded in Scripture and has always made that a focus. From the topics of the series being preached, to the various other groups and outreach ministries at the church, the gospel message has always been the foundation.”
Certainly politics is no easy calling, and being in the public eye isn’t for the faint of heart. East Side Church of God offers the Patzer family a place to be recharged and refreshed as often as they are able to attend. But God has also shaped MP Patzer even under public scrutiny and in the public square.
“God’s plan is bigger and better than my plans,” Patzer reflects. “He put me into this position for a time such as this, and I need to trust his timing and that there is a purpose for the things that are going on in the world right now.” Noting a related lesson from God, Patzer emphasizes the importance of maintaining an eternal perspective. “I have the opportunity as a believer,” Patzer concludes, “to be involved in the shaping of our country, and to remember that God’s hand is always at work. If my focus is on the things that are temporary, I might miss out on something much bigger, something of eternal worth.”
Editor’s note—MP Patzer was originally scheduled to speak at Convention 2021 in Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately, pandemic restrictions limited international travel options this summer. We thank him for being willing to share part of his story here and look forward to future opportunities down the road.