Those are the words of just one of the nearly 250 pastors and church leaders from around the commonwealth who gathered in Richmond yesterday for The Family Foundation and Pastors For Family Values Pastor Summit. This year's theme was, "A Passion to Preserve Our Religious Liberty." From the opening time of praise and worship to the closing stirring address by our own chaplain, Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr., we were, as another pastor said, "enlightened, convicted, and motivated." It was great to have so many longtime Family Foundation pastors combined with many new faces who are committed to discipleship in the area of civic involvement.
Our first speaker, Congressman Randy Forbes, provided an insiders look at some of the ridiculous attacks on our religious founding that he has fought against in Washington, D.C., such as when the new Capitol visitor center would not allow the Pledge of Allegiance because it references "God"! We so appreciate the work of Congressman Forbes as he has led the fight to protect our history in Washington.
Of course, many in the room came to hear from our keynote speaker, historian David Barton. Barton addressed the crowd twice and once again supplied an extraordinary amount of information about our founding — in particular, the role that clergy played in our fight for independence. As always, he was informative and motivational. One pastor told of praying with a colleague after the event who was spiritually convicted by David's words.
Perhaps the most moving address of the day came from Alliance Defense Fund attorney David French. He spoke about the direct attacks on Christian religious liberty taking place on our college campuses and how ADF has defended the rights of dozens of students and professors. He told of how much courage it takes for a college student to stand up to the threats and intimidation of college administrators, professors and other students. But he then told his own personal story of volunteering for the Army at age 37 and going to Iraq to fight for our freedom. He talked of God's provision and how our God is bigger than any threat we face. We also heard a presentation by Bill Federer concerning the history and philosophy of Islam and the threats it presents to both our religious and political liberties.
Other words and phrases used by pastors to describe yesterday’s summit include "excellent," "outstanding," "a wonderfully inspiring and educational conference," and "best equipping event I’ve ever attended."
It is our firm belief that unless pastors take the lead in educating and motivating their congregations to action in civil government we cannot be successful in returning our commonwealth and nation to their founding principles. That is why we are so encouraged by yesterday’s event. The pastors who came left energized and ready to take the lead. As a result, we know Virginia will never be the same.