Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In gratitude for Senator Mark Hatfield

Senator Mark Hatfield died two days ago. He was a 30 year Senator from Oregon and an instrumental person in my life. I was a Political Science major at Westminster College and in my Senior year became Chairperson of the college's Mock Republican National Convention. Admiring from afar the political career of Senator Hatfield, whose Christian conviction had often put him at odds with the Republican party (opposition to the Vietnam War, the arms race, etc.), I took the chance and invited him to be the keynote speaker at the convention. He accepted! We met a few months later at an anti-nuke rally in New York City that we were both attending and discussed his speech. Months following, whenthe convention rolled around, prior to his address we met again and had about a 20 minute conversation. At that time I was considering a career either in politics or in the church. I shared these thoughts with Senator Hatfield and asked him as a Christian in politics what he thought I should do. He said this: " Leadership in the Church has a greater chance to change the world than leadership in politics. If I were you I'd pursue the calling to the Church, before the calling to politics.". Those words came to me at a pivotal moment in my life and greatly impacted my decision to go to seminary and serve the Church. I've never regretted it. Mark Hatfield remained for me a model of a person who was willing to let his Spirit-guided conscience lead him into places where often angels feared to tread. In this age of hyper-partisan politics we should all pray for the likes of Mark Hatfield to appear again. Praise God from whom, and to whom, all blessings flow.