Every U.S. coin boldly asserts, “In God we trust.” That idea is beginning to take hold in the hearts and minds of an emerging group in Homer, Alaska.
“We have a plan, and we have a lot of people,” said Pastor Mark Edens of Regent Life Church in Homer. “It is exciting. It feels like the beginning of a movement.”
ROUSING THE CHURCH
Two months ago, Edens helped launch “Heaven in Government,” a monthly event where Homer residents gather to hone up on local politics, pray for elected officials, network with fellow believers and brainstorm ways to transform their city.
“I’ve never really been involved with politics and government until just the last five years,” said Edens, a commercial fisherman and pastor who grew up in halibut fishing town. That all changed when he began seeing the need for Christians to wake up and engage a culture that is increasingly abandoning its Christian heritage.
We want to mobilize the church to be a godly influence – to get involved, to show up and vote
With a population around 5,500 Homer is a tiny slice of America, but Edens firmly believes that local politics is the sphere where Christians can have the greatest impact.
“There’s got to be 1,500 Christians in Homer,” he estimated. “We literally should be able to own every single vote that comes to the table if we could just wake the church up.”
From the looks of things, it appears the church is rousing.
Since launching Heaven in Government in November the monthly meetings have drawn about 40 participants from seven different congregations. Edens expects those numbers will grow as word spreads.
The meetings occur on the third Sunday night of each month with 30 minutes of instruction on politics followed by one hour of prayer. Most people stick around afterwards for light refreshments and rousing discussions on current events effecting the town.
“We want to mobilize the church to be a godly influence – to get involved, to show up and vote,” Edens explained. “Networking is so important when votes come up. What we are voting for? Who’s running? And then we want to encourage people to run for office and get involved.”
Edens kicked off the first meeting in November with a talk on what a good government looks like when operating under godly principles. He also explored the difference between government and politics. State Rep. Sarah Vance addressed the December gathering, speaking about statewide concerns and how voters can navigate the legislative website to stay up to speed on key issues. Kenai Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce in on deck for January to talk about borough politics, and February will feature a member from the Homer City Council.
After each presentation, the group turns its collective attention heavenward.
“When we pray, we pray for the nation, then we pray for the state, the borough and the city,” Edens said. “The focus is the city, but we don’t leave out any of the others.”
When it comes to theology, the group steers clear of theological disputes and tries to stay focused on what unites believers in the political sphere.
“It is very important that you believe what you believe, but we are not uniting around theology,” Edens explained. “We are uniting around the principles that create a good government that promotes safety and empowerment for the culture. If we can unite around that then we are all in.”
We’re just trying to wake up and unite the church.
Edens believes Christians have lost much of their unity and influence in society due to a faulty perception of politics and the role of the church.
“Churches, by and large, over the years have accepted the belief that politics is evil, all politicians are liars, and getting involved in government isn’t spiritual,” he said. “We’ve bought into the belief that if we are going to do something spiritual then we have to be a pastor or missionary. None of this is really correct and it has kept us separate.”
To renew and restore the culture, Christians need to engage the seven spheres of influence in society, Edens said. Those are religion, family, government, media, arts and entertainment, business and education.
“They each have a place in society, and if the church can impact each of those, we can influence our city,” he said. “Heaven in Government is focused on the government sphere.”
If the gatherings accomplish nothing else but alert Christians to the duty of taking responsibility for their town, it will be a success in Edens view.
“We’re just trying to wake up and unite the church,” he said.
The next Heaven in Government gathering is Sunday, Jan. 19, at Regent Life Church. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information, email Renee Eidem at firstname.lastname@example.org