Far from his normal flock in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black filled the pews of First United Methodist Church on Sunday morning. Black led both the early and later services for the church, but in between held a question-and-answer session for curious parishioners.
“I can just use my evangelical voice,” Black said to audience of more than 100 in the church’s sanctuary. While most questions centered around Black’s position as a religious leader in a political world, the first question that was answered was why Black was there.
“He and I entered the Navy about the same time. Our paths crossed many times since,” said the Rev. Bob Phillips, directing pastor at the church. Phillips and Black stayed in contact long after their Navy careers ended.
Black, who grew up around Baltimore, has been the Senate chaplain since 2003.
“He’s heard what God is doing here at First,” Phillips said. “That’s why he’s here, and it’s great to have a leader and a friend here to help.”
Black’s deep voice boomed through the sanctuary as if it were built to fill the space.
He has opened Senate sessions with a prayer, he has led Bible studies with U.S. senators, he has been alongside three U.S. senators as they died. Sometimes, senators have even asked him for advice.
“They don’t expect me to put my brain in neutral. They can come up to me and say ‘Chaps, how would you vote?’ In private, I could tell them the moral reasons why I would vote some way,” Black said.
“They say there’s a separation between church and state, not God and state,” Black said. He continued to say his Bible studies and God’s word bring Democrats and Republicans together.
“At the end of each study, they all get together, hold hands and pray. It’s a sight to see. When they leave, though, it’s like the ‘Thrilla in Manila,’ like Ali versus Frazier. They’re throwing punches at each other.”
Source: Peoria Journal Star | Zach Berg