Over 100 South Carolina faith leaders were led by Palmetto Family to Washington D.C. to pray and meet with their elected officials and see the many sights of our nation’s capital.
As I stood outside the United States Capitol watching the building’s spotted, creamy marble melt in the beaming summer sun, a pastor approached me and struck up a brief conversation. We discussed the experiences of the past day before the dialog turned to the event now in the past by just an hour.
This event was what led us to stand outside the Capitol Building at this moment in the steaming sun – a private luncheon with members of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation where the attendees met and prayed with and for those leaders.
As one of the over 100 South Carolina faith leaders who Palmetto Family led to Washington D.C., this Palmetto State pastor was struck by the opportunity he had just experienced:
“How many people get the opportunity to see their congressmen from a distance? And how few people get the chance to simply shake their hand? Not only were we able to do that just now, but we were able to pause, lay hands on our leaders and pray for God to bless and guide almost all of South Carolina’s congressmen. How rare is that? Thanks for helping make this happen.”
This opportunity is rare, indeed, and one Palmetto Family felt important to provide to members of its pastor coalition, the Nehemiah Network, in order to keep biblical values in the forefront of our leaders’ decision.
The Nehemiah Network began as an initiative of Palmetto Family to be the catalyst for church leaders to connect with those across denominational and racial lines, meet local community needs and earn influence with political leaders to encourage them spiritually and guide their decision making.
In three short years, Palmetto Family’s Nehemiah Network has quickly become an important force for good in South Carolina. With over 400 members from 15 different denominations, the Nehemiah Network is now the largest state-based pastor coalition in the country.
A major aspect of the Nehemiah Network is facilitating relationships between South Carolina’s faith and political leaders. More than 35 elected officials have attended the Nehemiah Network prayer call where they have prayed with and have been encouraged by local pastors eager to provide spiritual assistance.
Additionally, Palmetto Family has established a tradition of bringing these leaders together in person at the annual Pastor’s Day at the Statehouse. During Pastor’s Day, members of the Nehemiah Network connect with their South Carolina representative and senator in the lobby of the statehouse and pray with one another.
With the growing success of each Pastor’s Day at the Statehouse, Palmetto Family decided the time was right to take the model to South Carolina’s federal leaders.
And like that, the “Nehemiah Network Goes to Washington 2019” event was born.
The first major event of the trip was a private tour of the United States Capitol with Congressman Jeff Duncan. Representative Duncan – who represents South Carolina’s third district – weaved the faith leaders through public and some private sections of the Capitol for more than two hours. All the while he explaining the historical and often faith-centered significance of the statues, paintings and monuments located inside the Capitol.
At the end of the tour and while located under in the rotunda, the faith leaders gathered and sang several stanzas of the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” The near-perfect acoustics of the building allowed the words to be carried far inside the building.
The final moments of the time with Representative Duncan were spent in prayer as the group laid hands on and prayed for the four-term representative.
Of the time, Representative Duncan said:
“It was an honor to fellowship with Palmetto Family and lead the group through the Capitol for a time of encouragement and prayer for our nation. They do amazing work for our state, and I’m glad to have spent time with them during their visit to Washington.”
The next event for the pastors was a private, pre-hours tour of the Museum of the Bible. The Museum of the Bible’s goal is to educate the public on the history of the Bible, its many narrative forms and its impact on societies around the world. The 430,000-square-foot museum is a wonder of design and architecture, the combined work of seven design firms.
For an hour and a half, the South Carolina faith leaders wondered the halls unintruded, soaking up the history of the Word of God.
Following the Museum of the Bible tour, the faith leaders arrived back at the Capitol for the aforementioned luncheon with the South Carolina Congressional Delegation. Each member was given time to address the attendees and each spoke about the importance of engagement from the faith community in the political process.
Senator Tim Scott said of the event that:
“It’s a true blessing to be surrounded with God-fearing citizens and I’m honored for the opportunity to speak at the Palmetto Family Council last week. We live in a time where our country has become divided and our differences appear to outweigh our similarities. In this time, we need the power of prayer more than ever and leaders who can help guide the people’s hearts back to the Lord I’m grateful for the work that Palmetto Family Council is carrying out across the state to ensure that the views of South Carolinians are heard at every level of government.”
Senator Lindsey Graham said:
“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with faith leaders from South Carolina last week. I could not be more pleased with the Trump Administration’s selection of conservative judges and commitment to pushing pro-family policies. I will do my best to work with the President in the coming days, months and years to fulfill a pro-family agenda.”
Representative Tom Rice mentioned said:
“I was honored to join over 100 faith leaders from South Carolina while they were in DC last week. I pray every day for God to use me as tool to lift people up in my role as a Congressman, and I look forward to continued work with Palmetto Family to ensure South Carolina values are at the forefront of our policy decisions.”
“This last week in Washington, I had the pleasure of speaking to over a hundred faith leaders from across the state of South Carolina. Never in my time here in D.C. have I felt such a compelling call to action. These folks are on a spiritual mission to pray and persuasively present the issues facing our state and nation to America’s highest leaders. A lot more work is left to be done. But with Palmetto Family’s strong values of faith, family, and freedom I know they will continue to be a powerful and growing influence here in Washington.”
Added Representative William Timmons, South Carolina’s newest congressman:
“Every year, Palmetto Family Council brings faith leaders from the Upstate to Washington to discuss important values with elected officials. I enjoy every chance I get to meet with them and talk about defending religious freedom across the country.”
The final day of the historic trip included two more exciting experiences for the faith leaders.
The first event was a private briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with high ranking administration officials. The topic of the briefing: How faith and the faith community improve local communities.
The list of speakers include:
- Marty Dannenfelser
- Les Ford
- James Carroll, Director of U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Kevin Smith, Director of the DHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives
- Richard Youngblood, Director of HUD Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
The faith leaders were given time to ask questions of the administration officials to discover how best to use the resources available to local churches. The meeting was closed in a passionate prayer by Pastor Tony Foster of Restoration Worship Center in Greenwood, South Carolina.
Following the private briefing and because of its proximity, the faith leaders walked down the road to the White House – their next and final experience. Before entering the security line, the pastors huddled together and prayed for President Donald Trump and the future of the United States.
The next hour was filled with sights of presidents past and the history of our country’s commander and chief.
As our nation becomes further polarized and people of faith are pushed to the margins, groups like Palmetto Family’s Nehemiah Network and events such as Pastor’s Day at the Statehouse and the Washington D.C. trip become more vital in keeping God and biblical principle at the center of decisions.
Summing up the trip, Pastor Todd Black of Turning Point Free Will Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, said:
“It was an honor to visit Washington D.C. last week with over 100 faith leaders from South Carolina that are part of the Nehemiah Network. We took in many sights and sounds, but most importantly, we were able to pray for and encourage our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators. The Nehemiah Network was unified across cultural and denominational lines with the common cause of giving support and prayer to our leaders.
Several of our legislators encouraged us in the faith community to continue to preach the Word of God and to pray for them as they seek wisdom in making some very important decisions for the future of our great nation.
From the outside looking in, many would think that God is nowhere to be found on Capitol Hill. But may I declare to you that God is still alive and well, even in Washington D.C. You can’t erase the history of our forefathers, nor the Bibles on the prayer benches or the scripture that is etched on the stained-glass windows inside of the Capitol Chapel. There are still some God-fearing leaders throughout SC and our governmental system, and we as Christians have a God-called duty to pray for those leaders in authority. Pray that they would make sound decisions according to biblical truth and encourage them on a regular basis.
As an early member of the Nehemiah Network, I have seen the power and impact of prayer and encouragement within our local, state and federal government. We are pro-family, pro-life and we still have a voice. We are the Nehemiah Network!”