I'm stuck in Washington in more than 2 feet of snow (which they don't know how to deal with).I find myself reflecting in this unusually quiet moment in DC upon the last year with the Obama administration. When I checked my voice mail late that winter evening of 2009. I heard the voice of Joshua DuBois (who identified himself as the Executive Director of President Obama’s Office on Faith-based and Community Partnerships - as if I didn’t know who he was). We had invited our daughter and her good friend for dinner that evening and the conversation went on for hours (how truly wonderful). So I had put away my phone, and as much as I wanted to call Joshua right that minute, realizing it was 1 AM in Washington, DC, I had to go to bed wondering why he was calling. I knew there were a number of conference calls coming up on a number of issues. One of them was about abortion and how to reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. I thought, “I don’t know that I have much to offer to that conversation.”
Early the next morning, 8 AM eastern time, I returned the call, and, of course, got Josh’s voice mail, but Joshua DuBois soon called me back and quickly asked if I would accept President Obama’s appointment to his Advisory Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. I quickly answered, “I would be honored.” He then asked if I could be at the first administrative meeting and gave me the dates. I said I’d be there and that was the extent of the call. I soon got lots more information by email about the meeting arrangements and travel arrangements, but nothing that really explained what the purpose of the group was.
It is unlike me not to ask, I am always asking, the question, “What is our purpose, what are the goals?” I am always asking, “What’s the best thing that can come from this?” But in this case, the President of the United States invited, I said yes. And I would have said yes to any U.S. president in response to such an invitation. The chance of a life time to serve one's country and while we don’t always get the particular president we might each want, most Americans would do as I did.
Clear the calendar I’m going to DC. That was a year ago.Now we are getting ready to put the finishing touches on more than 50 recommendations to the president next month and almost all of them have wide spread agreement. In the few places we don’t have complete consensus, we have found way to agree to disagree. In the weeks to come I’ll share more about the results of the year. In the meantime, ask yourself, would you serve?And if so how would you lead and what would you say?
The Rev. Peg Chemberlin is the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches. She is the immediate past president of the National Council of Churches, an organization of 36 communions with 45 million constituents across the nation. Read more about Rev. Peg Chemberlin.
Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin was asked to provide a Christian perspective on religious violence at a bipartisan press conference this Monday at the State Capitol. "We affirm the best of our faiths' traditions which call for respectful engagement with each other."