Prestigious Invitation Puts Atlanta Pastor in Front of Georgia Senate

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Southeast

By Carl Stagner

Too often, the culture is seen as having had great influence on the church, when it should be the other way around. In the political arena, the same can be said; too often the church resembles a political entity instead of the Christ she represents. So, when there’s an opportunity for the church to speak into politics and government, there’s really only one reasonable course of action—take it! Late last year, Church of God pastor Kevin Earley of Community Church Atlanta graciously accepted the prestigious invitation to deliver a devotion before the Georgia Senate. In topic and tone, Pastor Kevin also represented Jesus Christ with precision and poise.

So, how does one receive such an invitation? Pastor Kevin Earley explains: “I was introduced to State Senator Sonya Halpern, who represents the district that Community Church falls within, by the chairman of our Trustee Board, Councilman Jaceey Sebastian, who serves as the mayor pro tem for the City of South Fulton. Senators from both sides of the aisle get opportunities to invite a religious leader to give a devotion before their day starts. After meeting Senator Halpern a few months ago, she made me her choice. Unlike other legislative bodies, the Georgia Senate makes room for a full-blown devotion and not just the typical prayer to open the session. It is considered a sacred time, and the doors are shut with no one entering or leaving while the devotional is given.”

This wasn’t Pastor Kevin’s first such rodeo. He’d offered the invocation once for the Michigan State Senate several years ago while pastor of Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit. Senator Morris Hood III, who represented the area surrounding the church, extended the honor. In an extension of that honor, though Senator Hood was not part of the congregation, Pastor Kevin was asked to officiate the funeral of the late senator and present the eulogy.

Recounting the moments leading up to the devotion, Pastor Kevin says prayer was his dominant focus. “Entering the chamber,” he explains, “I hoped and prayed that what I was about to share would be helpful. As I met the various senators beforehand, I was warmly welcomed by all and was surprised to witness cordiality and sense of camaraderie among the senators. For weeks leading up to this session, and even afterwards, a very contentious redrawing of congregational maps was taking place. Despite significant political differences and a court-fought battle, the senators honored one another, and I even whispered to Senator Halpern that the US Congress could learn from the civility of the state senators in Georgia.”

With the Christmas season in full-swing and holiday get-togethers and events still looming, Pastor Kevin’s December devotion centered on the topic of relationships with people. Though people—politicians, family members, churches, and other groupings of society—don’t always see eye to eye, there can remain a sense of civility. Relationships with people do, after all, matter. At the end of the day, relationships are what people have—even the most introverted among us. Jesus Christ gave the best example of breaking down barriers that would otherwise separate.

Through the prism of his recent interaction with Georgia government officials, Pastor Kevin prays with intentionality and specificity concerning the state of government and politics across the country. “…Bonafide truth can be reclaimed,” Kevin comments. “Spin, talking points, party loyalty, and political power itself has replaced doing what is in the best interest of constituents. The spirit of compromise has been lost, attacks avail, and lies frequently replace the truth—on both sides of the aisle. I pray that the cordiality I witnessed among the senators [in Georgia] would flow into their governing.”

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

Feature (top) photo: Senator Sonya Halpern, Pastor Kevin Earley, and Lt. Governor Burt Jones.

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