Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A) stated clerk Gradye Parsons met with the Senate democratic caucus—and other faith leaders who were invited to share their concerns as a new legislative session begins.
Much of the conversation in the 75-minute meeting centered around faith concerns about poverty, the recovering economy, economic inequality, immigration rights and mass incarceration.
When Parsons finally spoke he brought up immigration reform, then talked about one of the church’s top priorities.
“We hadn’t talked about it yet,” said Parsons. “So I linked the issues we had been discussing to the issue of violence in our society—especially gun violence.”
As Parsons advocated for something to be done, encouraging those present not to let it slip off the radar—due to a lack of political will, or because it’s too hard—the important conversation began, lasting the final fifteen minutes of the meeting.
“We were thankful that Gradye Parsons reminded the Senators that gun violence remains a serious problem in the United States and that Presbyterians are working hard to eradicate it,” says J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness, in Washington, D.C.
Nelson attended the meeting with Parsons, along with colleague Leslie Woods. “This kind of witness is part of our tradition. Presbyterians have always been committed to making our government and community stronger, by better serving people,” she said.
Parsons says he was an extension of the Office of Public Witness—able to bring the church’s concerns to the table because of their leadership and good work.
“We’ve been pushing for immigration rights and reforms for ten years,” says Parsons. “Now there’s a huge push from an evangelical alliance that crosses theological differences to get something done.”
“It’s very encouraging. Increasingly people think we need to treat immigrants in our country as people, like the bible tells us to.”
After working with Parsons on church priorities this morning, Nelson and Woods spent the afternoon welcoming and giving thanks for constituents who have supported and engaged in the public witness work of the church for the past 20-years. Part of a 2nd Tuesday group that was organized by lay people, they have been coming to D.C. when Congress is in session (on the second Tuesday) since 1991.
Next month, 2nd Tuesday will transition to online, giving it the capacity to go worldwide.