A Bay City pastor will lead members of the United States House of Representatives in prayer this week to begin the day's work session.
Following an invitation by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, Matthew Schramm, pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 103 E. Midland St., will read his 150-word prayer after House Speaker John Boehner hits his gavel to begin session at noon on Wednesday, July 23.
"It's an honor to lead Congress in prayer and I'm looking forward to it," said Schramm, who will travel with his wife and three children to Washington, D.C., for a vacation to take in the sites of the Capital.
Prayers can't be political in nature, Schramm said, but he believes any words of prayer right now come at an important time for the world, especially with current conflicts between Israel and Palestine, ongoing debates of allowing immigrants into America who are seeking asylum and the recent shooting down of a commercial airliner in Ukraine.
"No one knows why these things are happening, but they weigh heavy on us," he said.
His prayer, which will be part of the Congressional record, begins by thanking God for his many blessings.
"For the liberty to worship freely and live securely, for the freedom to pursue Your will for our lives, and for the honor of service to the peoples and nations of the earth, we give You thanks.
"We thank You that we live in a land of opportunity and we pray that You would help us to be mindful of opportunities to help, to share, to protect, to welcome, and to proclaim what is just and what is good.
"We ask your blessing on this House, this government, and all those who serve the common good. By Your Holy Spirit, grant that they might have the courage to do just that; and, may all that we do or say give honor and glory to you, Almighty Father, now and forever. Amen."
Schramm, 34, came to Westminster Presbyterian Church in 2009 from New Jersey as a 29-year-old and has spent the past five-and-a-half years leading his congregation and the national church. He recently wrapped up a two-year stint as the chairman of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, which helps craft the mission and ministry of Presbyterian churches across the country.
He is the youngest to ever chair one of the six general assemblies of the church.
"It was amazing to see the depth and breadth of what we do as a church body," he said. "I was able to connect with mission workers and folks from the national church to come to Bay City. It was a privilege and a great opportunity for me."
He admits his family and his church are excited to have more of his time now that his duties as chairman are done. He'll stay busy this year, however, helping plan the 150th anniversary of the Bay City church, which occurs in August 2015.
"It's going to be a big celebration and we have a lot of important events planned for it," he said.
Schramm, who grew up in metro Detroit, graduated from Hillsdale College in May 2001 and then went on to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2004.
Editor’s note: the Rev. Matt Schramm just completed six years of service on the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, including a two-year term as chair. ― Jerry L. Van Marter