It’s that time of year again! Every year we invite Pastors, Priests and ministry leaders the State Capitol for a day of networking and inspiration.
Bus transportation is available from Rapid City and Sioux Falls.
The day starts at 9:00am (CST) in the Capitol rotunda with a light breakfast and coffee, then a brief presentation. We update everyone on the recent happenings at the capitol, introduce them to our family-value allies, and give them an explanation on the layout of the building.
After the presentation everyone is free to explore the capitol, pray with their elected leaders, or take a tour led by FHA Interns (or do all three!). After a picture on the capitol steps, everyone leaves the capitol and goes to Community Bible Church in Pierre for lunch.
This year our keynote speaker is Kenyn Cureton, Family Research Council’s Vice President for Church Ministries! Kenyn will share his heart as to why we as Christians are called to influence every aspect of our culture with Christ’s morals. Then at 2:30, we explain the many resources we have brought with us on the resource table, and you’re off! Home in time for supper.
New for 2018: Every attendee is welcomed to invite a youth member from their church to shadow them for the day! Take a young person with you who you believe will appreciate a hands-on experience at the Capitol!
It’s Tuesday February 7th. There’s a light dusting of snow on my truck as I make my way to the Flying J Truck Stop on the eastern edge of Rapid City. I am going to meet the Stagecoach West bus that will take me to Pierre, South Dakota for the Family Heritage Alliance sponsored SD Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit.
I’m honored to be riding with some 38 pastors and ministry leaders and the cabin is abuzz with conversation. Tonya Torve, FHA’s Administrative Assistant is moving through the cabin offering refreshments and a warm smile. A few ask about what’s the latest in Pierre but many are just sharing experiences with other like-minded believers. In the sure and experienced hands of our driver, Ken Updike, the trip goes quickly and soon we arrive at our State Capitol.
The sun is shining brightly as we make our way to the Rotunda where we are met by Executive Director Dale Bartscher, Norman Woods and more than a hundred others. While we were approaching from the west, Lavonne Fosness was leading another bus load of believers from Sioux Falls and a host of other vehicles were arriving from across the state. After some coffee, cookies and a yogurt parfait, Dale and Norman briefed us and then all are free to fan out through the beautiful Capitol Building to engage with lawmakers, constitutional officers or to sit in on committee meetings.
I visit Room 423 where the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee is conducting a hearing on SB 81, a bill to prohibit powdered alcohol in South Dakota that FHA Action is supporting. Dale Bartscher is testifying in support of this bill and the committee approves unanimously to send it to the floor for a vote. It’s fun to win one!!!
But it’s now almost 11:30 when we return to the Capitol Rotunda and fill the entire grand staircase for a group photo. We are joined there by many legislators, constitutional officers, Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels and Governor Dennis Daugaard and as a group we sing, filling the entire building with my favorite “God Bless America”.
It’s off then to enjoy lunch graciously provided and served by Community Bible Church. Once again we are honored to be joined by many legislators and constitutional officers.
But it’s not over yet!!! We then are inspired by a rousing message from Pastor J.C. Church from the Family Research Council who spoke of the need for all churches and believers to be bold and stand for our values and beliefs. Wow, if this man doesn’t motivate you to action, I don’t know who will.
Then it was back on the bus for the loud and fun ride back home. As I stood and watched from the back of the bus, I thought that the ride to and from alone was great. But everything else made it a truly memorable day.
God blessed us abundantly and I am especially grateful that I could be a part of it.
Pastors and Ministry Leaders mark your calendar today for next year’s Capitol Summit on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Can’t wait till next year.
Regularly, I get the question, “what exactly does Family Heritage Alliance do?” It is then my task to try to encapsulate the identity and mission of this organization in a ten second burst of information. Why ten seconds? Glad you asked. My research has determined that ten seconds is about the length of time it takes for the inquirer to experience that overwhelmed, eyes glazed over, “sorry I asked” response. I can say we are a faith and family valued advocacy group, but that only gets a little sliver of what we do. I can say we are public policy think tank, but then again, that only covers a tiny portion of the FHA and FHA Action’s work, mission, and vision. I can say we are lobbyists, but that only covers a tiny corner of our wheelhouse. In defining FHA and FHA Action, it would be really cool if there was one event that, in a scaled down way, demonstrated everything that we are about. Fortunately, as it turns out, such an event does exist. Every year in February, as the South Dakota Legislative session is fully under way, FHA Action brings ministry leaders in from all over the state for a day at the Capitol in Pierre. They are there to be educated and encouraged. They are there to influence and encourage the legislators. They are there to make a simple statement: “We are Christians, and we aren’t about to bow out of the public square.” In a very real way, we intentionally collide two worlds that many assume cannot or should not coexist. We intentionally mix the two things most experienced hosts know you don’t talk about at a family gathering. Yes, yes we do intentionally mix politics and religion. But before you make a judgement on this, be advised of the following. We believe at our core that Jesus demands to be Lord of our life, not Lord of our life with the exception of certain areas which we or our society have deemed outside His domain. So, pretty sure, politics and our involvement therein fits neatly in the territory Jesus rules. If that makes folks uncomfortable, they will have to take it up with HIM!
The event, by the way, is called the S.D. Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit, and this year it happened on Monday, February 22, and was attended by over 150 ministry leaders, legislators, elected officials, and FHA Staff. Our keynote speaker this year was Pastor Mark Gonzales, executive director of the “Black Robe Regiment”. To say that he had the room on the edge of their seats is an understatement. We also heard from FHA’s legal counsel, Jennifer Utter; Don Matolyak who was representing Franklin Graham’s “Decision America Tour”; and others. As is often the case at FHA events, one brilliant show-stealer was the youngsters that were there. Most of the youth there were FHA interns, admirable and quality folks everyone. We are so thankful to Pastor Friez and his entire team at Community Bible Church in Pierre. They always do such a great job. LaVonne Fossness and Amy Willson worked on opposite ends of the state to bring this off flawlessly in the middle. Ed Randazzo did a great job of photography and security. Our lobbying team of Dale Bartscher and Norman Woods did a super job of guiding us through issues and protocol. In all, it was just about a perfect day. To all who came, our deepest appreciation.
Pastors, ministry leaders, and concerned Christians are encouraged to consider joining the ‘Decision America Tour’ planned by Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This year, he will hold prayer rallies in the Capitals of all 50 states. Why? Because Franklin believes that America is in trouble morally, spiritually and politically, and only God can help her.
Franklin is challenging Christians to Pray, Vote and Engage. Pray for our country, live out our faith at home and in public, and take a stand for our Biblical principles at the ballot box.
This is not a political event but a call to pray, act and live 2 Chron. 7:14, asking God to return America to a moral course. God tells us to pray for our leaders and government showing His concern for this aspect of society and our spiritual connection to the ballot box.
FHA Action is honored that our Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit in Pierre, February 22, has been selected as the venue for the official announcement from Decision America as to the Tour Stop in Pierre! Use the link in the previous sentence to sign up for the FHA Action Capitol Summit! We need your registrations in as soon as possible.