November 12, 2013


O God . . . we are helpless without Your power. Unless You empower our lawmakers, they can see the ideal, but not reach it. They can know the right, but not do it. They can comprehend their duty, but not perform it. They can seek the truth, but not fully find it.”*

During the recent U.S. government shutdown the media was filled with reports of raucous debate, unbridled name-calling, and parliamentary maneuvering. For more than two weeks both sides were dug in, holding entrenched positions.

But amid the rancor, grandstanding, and brinksmanship I was encouraged to know that there were voices calling for calm, civil dialogue. Among those voices was Adventist pastor Barry C. Black, who serves as U.S. Senate chaplain.

At the start of each Senate session Black opens the meeting with prayer, bringing a moral influence, according to some commentators. Through his ministry he urged lawmakers to put politics aside and do what’s best for the country. His ministry made such an impact that the story of his prayers was featured in ABC News, MSNBC, the New York Times, Washington Times, and USA Today. Black is uniquely positioned to bring a moral influence to Capitol Hill. Serving for the past 10 years as Senate chaplain, Black is often involved in weddings and funerals for senators and their families. He also leads many of them in Bible study and provides counseling.

When asked about his ministry on Capitol Hill, Black simply says, “I’m trying to be a servant of the Lord who, when necessary, is unafraid to speak truth to power.”

While God calls us to stand for truth in our own circles of influence, it’s especially exciting to see an Adventist pastor answer the call in such a public way.

* Barry C. Black, Prayer for the Senate, Congressional Record, Oct. 2, 2013,