Chief Justice Roberts, judicial injustice, and 5 things you can do about it

Commentary by Dr. Nathan Oppman

Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurrence in the judgment of June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, which struck down a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, is a shocking example of judicial overreach.

In the decision Roberts states: “I joined the dissent in Whole Woman’s Health and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. The question today, however, is not whether Whole Woman’s Health was right or wrong, but whether to adhere to it in deciding the present case.”

Roberts openly admits that even though the conclusion he will reach is wrong, he feels that he must reach it to uphold precedent. This is a poor judicial reasoning at best … and utter dereliction of justice at worst.

Roberts seems to have overlooked that the primary role of a judge is to do justice, not to preserve the Court’s past rulings. Yet Roberts is so committed to precedent that he is willing to come to a conclusion even he believes is wrong to preserve it. In Roberts’ mind the precedent of the Court is even more powerful than his commitment to right and wrong.

When your legal doctrine demands that you allow injustice, it is time for your legal doctrine to change.

Yet Roberts is hardly alone in creating and following bad precedent. The Iowa Supreme Court has committed massive judicial overreach as well.

In 2018 the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Reynolds that was one of the most egregious examples of bad jurisprudence in the history of our country. That opinion concocted a “fundamental right” to abortion out of nothing and put even the most basic pro-life laws in jeopardy.

Iowa’s newly constituted Supreme Court may get a chance to reconsider that opinion, as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law implementing a short waiting period of 24 hours before a woman can obtain an abortion. That law is now being challenged in court. Let’s hope Iowa’s Supreme Court is not as committed to bad precedent as Chief Justice Roberts.

But is there anything that can be done beyond hoping for courts to change? Yes, there is! Courts only have as much power as the legislature, governor, and We the People give them. And in Iowa one of the most direct ways to correct a bad interpretation is to tell the Court our opinion on the issue.

This year the Iowa Legislature narrowly failed to pass a constitutional proposal called the Protect Life Amendment, which would have given We the People the right to give our opinion on the issue of abortion. I would encourage you to sign up for The FAMiLY Leader’s text and email alerts to stay informed on the Amendment’s progress.

Below are five other things you can do to make sure your opinion is heard on the abortion issue.

  1. Pray for your leaders, including Chief Justice Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court and Chief Justice Susan Christensen of the Iowa Supreme Court. Pray that they will do justice to those who come before them.
  2. Ask your state legislator where he or she stands on the Protect Life Amendment and encourage them to support the amendment during the next legislative cycle.
  3. Commit to voting, and consider running for elected office.
  4. Volunteer, donate, or help at a local women’s health center that helps women considering abortion to have the resources they need to choose life. Changing hearts and minds one at a time is invaluable in the fight for life.
  5. Share all of these action steps with 5 friends and encourage them to follow you in taking action.

We must never lose hope. Though decisions like Justice Roberts’ are discouraging, we must remember the abortionists are the ones playing defense, fighting off a passed law they knew would protect unborn children. And the 24-hour law put those who support abortion on defense once again.

Perhaps our Iowa Supreme Court will ignore bad precedent and speak boldly for life. Or perhaps they won’t. But we must never lose sight of the fact that each battle gives us an opportunity to move one step closer to a place where all innocent life is cherished and protected, from the moment of conception to natural death.

Nathan Oppman is a member of The FAMiLY Leader staff and Capitol Team.




Feds funnel $2 million to Planned Parenthood in Iowa

The Office of Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, June 30, awarded Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Des Moines, Iowa, a three-year grant totaling over $2 million to ostensibly “replicate effective teenage pregnancy prevention programs.”

This, despite federal studies that show Planned Parenthood’s sex education programs not only fail to reduce teenage pregnancy, but in five states even increased the number of pregnancies among those subjected to Planned Parenthood’s “education.”

As The FAMiLY Leader documented in a Des Moines Register column in 2019, three federal studies show Planned Parenthood-led programs failed or even hurt students.

From 2011 through 2014, Planned Parenthood received $4 million to teach sex education across five northwestern states. According to the report, titled “Evaluation of the Teen Outreach Program® in The Pacific Northwest,” six different Planned Parenthood affiliate partners taught over 3,500 students in 87 schools. Both the short-term and final impact analysis concluded that the program “had an impact in the undesirable direction on females becoming pregnant.” Or more bluntly, Planned Parenthood’s program resulted in more students getting pregnant!

Researchers stated that in the short-term sample, “Among males, females, and non-Hispanics, TOP® [the program taught by Planned Parenthood] students were significantly more likely than controls to have ever been pregnant or to have caused a pregnancy.”

The equally revealing Safer Sex Intervention: Final Impact Report demonstrates Planned Parenthood failing where another contractor at least had a little success. Buried in Appendix B, you can compare the results for yourself. The Hennepin County Department of Public Health, teaching the same curriculum over the same period in the same evaluation, created short-term, positive changes in three sexual behaviors. In contrast, Planned Parenthood failed to impact a single sexual behavior after receiving nearly $500,000 in taxpayer funding.

The third federal study involving Planned Parenthood took place in Chicago, where they were one of three contractors. Here again, the program did not positively impact any student behavior — a clear pattern of wasted time and money.

In fact, the only study TFL could find showing positive effects from a Planned Parenthood-led sex ed program was commissioned and paid for by the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Planned Parenthood sex education, paid for with tax dollars, repeatedly failed to help students. Studies in Minnesota, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska all confirm their ineffectiveness.

“We should recognize the obvious pattern,” says TFL Capitol Team member Daniel Sunne. “The last organization government should pay to prevent teen pregnancies is Planned Parenthood.”




Tony Evans on racial unrest: ‘This is a divine moment for ecclesiological reset’

On Thursday, June 18, The FAMiLY Leader welcomed leaders of sister state organizations from around the country to a Zoom meeting on racial reconciliation with Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.

Organizational and Church Ambassador Network leaders from several states partnering in TFL’s The Daniel Initiative joined the meeting, representing Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with likeminded organizations in states across the country and honored to welcome Dr. Evans to the discussion,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader. “Especially at a time of such division and brokenness, our hope is that Pastor Evans’ perspective can open up new understandings and paths for healing in the Church and in America.”

Watch Evans’ presentation during the meeting below:

During the meeting, Evans described both the COVID crisis and the racial unrest sweeping America as “disturbances” God is using to capture the Church’s attention.

“God is disturbing through a virus and through our strife the natural order of things in order to advance His Kingdom,” Evans said. “The bigger the disturbance, the bigger the message. And the reason why He disturbs the natural order of things is to shake up things on earth to reveal things from heaven.”

And what is God revealing?

“This is a divine moment for an ecclesiological reset,” Evans said.

Beginning with some historical context, Evans argued the racial divide in America today is being driven by the failure of the Church to teach at the outset of the nation God’s declaration that kidnapping and selling a man into slavery is a capital crime (Exodus 21:16).

“The Church failed in the initiation of our nation to address this issue biblically,” Evans said. “That set in motion things that would unveil a Civil War, peonage [the practice of incarcerating people to use them as slave labor, permitted under the 13th Amendment], Jim Crow – all of this endorsed actively or passively by the Church. Theological systems were set up … formal and informal embedding of systems that would keep people of color behind the 8-ball.

“All of this is to say there was a great failure of the Church,” Evans said. “The reason you have a black church and white church today is because the Church was not being the Church.”

But just as the Church bears responsibility for the sin, Evans said, it also holds the keys to healing.

“There are two answers to every question: God’s answer and everybody else’s. And everybody else is wrong when they disagree with Him,” Evans said. “If God is your problem, politics is not your solution. If God is your problem, social action is not your solution.

What is the solution?

For Evans, it’s the Church listening to God’s “divine moment,” correcting its practical theology, and leading the healing by example.

“Since the Church was the theological engine to injustice,” Evans says, “it needs to be the theological solution for it.”

“In the Bible, justice and righteousness … are joined at the hip,” Evans continued, citing Psalms 89:14 and Genesis 18:19. “But while the Anglo church has been emphasizing righteousness, the African-American church has been emphasizing justice. You are splitting a baby that God doesn’t split. … He wants both. Because we have not treated both with same tenacity, the same fire, and with the same insistence in the Church and in society, the society does not have the pattern to follow that should have been established by the Church.”

Evans’ ministry, The Urban Alternative, he relayed, is working to establish just such a pattern, through a three-point plan it’s implemented in several communities, including racial tension hotspot Ferguson, Missouri.

The first point of the plan, Evan said, is to gather the churches of a local community together for a “solemn assembly.”

“There must be a coming together, for the purpose of establishing unity … which invites God’s glory,” Evans said.

From that gathering, The Urban Alternative encourages pastors to stay in contact monthly, for prayer and for discussion, and for corporate impact.

The second point is for the churches of a community to “speak with one voice, so that there is no uncertain sound about the key issues that your communities face – not just a unity of fellowship, but a unity of communication.

“There ought not be any uncertain sound on the issue of racism, on the issue of injustice, on the issue of righteousness,” Evans explained. “We complain about [these issues] in our own circles, but what we don’t do is speak collectively about them. And that ‘one voice’ is critical.”

The third point, Evans said, is to “serve together to impact the environment in our communities. We let the Church be visibly seen as salt and light. Let men see your good works, not hear your good words alone.”

The Urban Alternative has focused on encouraging churches to adopt their public schools – to provide mentoring to students, many of whom come from broken homes.

“But that’s not the only thing you can do,” Evans said. “We’re also going to adopt a police precinct … to influence how community and police relationships go. You get to set the stage. We’re going to provide counseling for their officers. Invite them into what the Church is doing, so the people can see them. … We’re going to bring them into the Church, inviting the community, and we become repairers of the breach.”

And there’s one more secret to unlocking the Church’s power of healing, Evans outlined during the Q&A session: Bring black churches and white churches to work alongside one another.

“Because here’s the key to reconciliation: It happens through service, not seminars. When you serve someone worse off than you, you get to know the one you serve with,” Evans said. “When you join forces to help the hurting, and you do that in a tangible way, the hearing and the openness will go up. … Out of the connectivity and shared experiences, when those emanate from common faith, we can let [reconciliation] grow organically rather than trying to force it, because we are ministering together.”

“If the Church would do this or something like this, it would go a long way to bring healing,” Evans said.

“Dr. Evans has given me all kinds of ideas,” said Greg Baker, vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY Leader. “The church networks these state leaders represent are all about the transformative power of building relationships between pastors, community leaders, and elected officials – and the common goal they share of bringing blessing and healing to hurting people. What better place to start the healing than with the Church being tangible salt and light?”

“This does just scream ‘The Daniel Initiative,'” agreed Vander Plaats. “A model of building relationships between local pastors and local officials, impacting their local communities, spreading state by state – it’s how you change a nation!”

The leaders on the call with Evans participate in The FAMiLY Leader’s The Daniel Initiative, which mentors independent state organizations in a strategy of inspiring the Church to engage with government for the advance of God’s Kingdom. Part of that strategy includes developing Church Ambassador Networks, which bring ministers of God’s Church (pastors) into non-partisan, discipleship relationships with ministers of God’s government (elected officials). Together, The Daniel Initiative organizations represent networks of thousands of churches across a dozen states in the U.S., with the goal of seeing culture-transforming Church Ambassador Networks in all 50 U.S. states and beyond.




Family Leadership Summit 2020 adds livestream!

Due to overflow demand, the 2020 Family Leadership Summit is now offering livestream tickets for those who can’t attend in person!

This year’s stellar lineup of speakers – including U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, former NFL player Jack Brewer, New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg, Mike Lindell of MyPillow, Dr. Del Tackett of The Truth Project, U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Rick Santorum, and more – has generated unprecedented interest from the public.

So many tickets have been sold, in fact, that the Summit has reached its maximum capacity under current COVID-19 restrictions. Unless those restrictions are eased, no more tickets can be made available to attend in person at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines on July 17.

But if you don’t have YOUR tickets yet, don’t fret. You can still purchase a livestream ticket, at a reduced price, to watch from the comfort of your own living room!

Register here to watch The Family Leadership Summit livestream on July 17!

Best of all, this means you no longer have to be in Des Moines on the 17th to join us at the Summit … and neither do your friends! Make sure to share this livestream opportunity to join the Summit of a lifetime with your friends and family, no matter where they live!




States find unexpected partner in COVID response: Churches

Overburdened government agencies in several states found an unexpected partner in formulating their COVID-19 response, thanks in part to a unique model of church-government cooperation that began only a few years ago in Iowa.

In 2017, Iowa’s The FAMiLY Leader launched “The Daniel Initiative,” or TDI, which partners with Christian organizations in other states to create independent, statewide, church networks. These “Church Ambassador Networks,” in turn, work to build personal relationships with and minister to local government officials. Today, the Daniel Initiative is in more than 10 states, from New Hampshire to Texas.

These networks have already blessed many government officials and churches, but when COVID hit, the networks became an unexpected and crucial part of several states’ response to the virus crisis.

“We just got thrown into COVID crisis mode,” muses Kurt Weaver of the Pennsylvania Family Institute. “Who knew the Church Ambassador Network would be connecting the Church with elected officials for just such a time as this?”

In Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, and more, TDI-linked Christian policy organizations suddenly found themselves a conduit between churches looking for COVID guidelines for the thousands of people in their congregations and state governments needing to spread guidelines to thousands of people quickly. In some states, government agencies also discovered that the thousands of ready volunteers in the churches could become part of providing tangible assistance to communities in need.

Minnesota

“The Church might be the largest untapped volunteer base in Minnesota,” explains Jeff Evans, the Church Ambassador Network director for the Minnesota Family Council.

Evans is the only faith leader serving on the Minnesota Food Insecurity Task Force. Evans was invited to join the task force by the Democrat state administration because he offers something CEOs and government officials lack: connection with Christian churches across the entire state.

These connections continue to grow and deepen as Jeff hosts video calls between pastors and legislators around the state, including phone calls with non-Christian legislators.

After offering to pray for a legislator last week, Evans recalls, “She got real quiet and said, ‘No one’s ever asked to pray for me before.’”

Evans has hosted over 30 such video calls with hundreds of pastors since the pandemic started.

Pennsylvania

Minnesota is not the only place where engagement with the Church has provided unexpected entrée. The Pennsylvania Family Institute, or PFI, organized three calls with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, a key figure in an administration generally hostile to PFI’s policy goals.

“We overwhelmed their conference call system,” laughs Weaver. “We had to do two calls back-to-back.”

Their first call with Sec. Levine had over 1300 pastors participate, and their most recent had around 850.

Weaver estimates the Pennsylvania Family Institute has served thousands of Pennsylvania churches by offering legal advice, weekly webinars with hundreds of church leaders, and bi-weekly denominational leader calls with about 15 participating denominations.

“The Lord is using it, I think, to bring the Church together and to grow the Church Ambassador Network,” Weaver said.

Indiana

The Daniel Initiative in Indiana turned one year old this February, but Josh Hershberger of the Indiana Family Institute describes tremendous growth.

Hershberger connected churches with others to organize blood drives, childcare for emergency workers, and to support clinics in low-income communities.

“A lot of churches want to help, but aren’t sure what to do,” he said. “We wanted to connect them with frontline ministries and organizations, and I’ve really been grateful for how churches have responded, really being the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Ohio

Citizens for Community Values in Ohio, or CCV, was the first organization to partner with The FAMiLY Leader in The Daniel Initiative.

“We had a great opportunity to pivot to support God’s Church,” explains Ruth McNeil, the church network director for CCV. “It was very timely, having the Church Ambassador Network already established.”

The first thing CCV did after COVID broke out was convened a conference call with the Governor’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives, giving pastors an opportunity to ask questions. After 500 churches participated in the first call, CCV now host a regular “Faith Friday” call between pastors and the Governor’s Office. Between 230-350 churches participate weekly.

McNeil also describes organizing the Joseph Council with Christian ministry leaders from around the state. The Joseph Council meets weekly to discuss how churches can serve and to promote best practices. Recently, they created recommendations for churches to safely reopen.

Additionally, McNeil is partnering with Ohio Pray to host the “Holy of Hour of Prayer” on Facebook Live every Friday. She says this hour averages 1200 people, many hosting Facebook Watch parties.

Especially during a pandemic, McNeil notes, “The Church has to continue to pray, fast, and serve.”

Conclusion

The Daniel Initiative seems providentially prepared to serve the Church and our country in this difficult season. A public health and economic disaster like COVID-19 is a special opportunity for the Christian Church to share the love of Christ with her neighbor – and supported by The Daniel Initiative, churches across the country have risen to the challenge.

“We’ve made huge headway,” summarizes Minnesota’s Jeff Evans, “and that bodes well for the future.”




Statement: SCOTUS had no right to rewrite Civil Rights Act

On Monday, June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision, redefining the term “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – to now also include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Supreme Court’s rewrite of the Civil Rights Act in Bostock v. Clayton County, however, has sweeping consequences not only for the constitutional balance of powers, but also for individual rights.

“Judges are tasked with interpreting the law that is, not what they think it ought to be,” says The FAMiLY Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats. “And by once again stepping over their constitutional boundaries, a small group of unelected judges have rewritten laws and trampled the freedoms of all Americans.”

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito made the same assertion in his dissenting opinion.

“There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation,” wrote Alito. “A more brazen abuse of our authority to interpret statues is hard to recall.”

Despite its best intentions, Alito concluded, the Court’s job is to interpret law, not make it.

“The updating desire to which the Court succumbs no doubt arises from humane and generous impulses. Today, many Americans know individuals who are gay, lesbian, or transgender and want them to be treated with the dignity, consideration, and fairness that everyone deserves,” he writes. “But the authority of this Court is limited to saying what the law is. The Court itself recognizes this: ‘The place to make new legislation . . . lies in Congress. When it comes to statutory interpretation, our role is limited to applying the law’s demands as faithfully as we can in the cases that come before us.’ It is easy to utter such words. If only the Court would live by them.”

What’s more, Alito warned – despite Justice Gorsuch’s assurances in the majority opinion that First Amendment religious liberties “can” override employment discrimination laws and that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or RFRA) “might” supersede Title VII – Monday’s court ruling jeopardizes several constitutional freedoms.

“As the briefing in these cases has warned, the position that the Court now adopts will threaten freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety,” Alito writes. “No one should think that the Court’s decision represents an unalloyed victory for individual liberty.”

Alito specifically warns Monday’s ruling has the potential to:

  • Force women to endure biological males in bathrooms and locker rooms,
  • Pit female student athletes and even professional athletes against male competitors,
  • Require faith-based schools to hire teachers or employees in open defiance of the schools’ professed doctrines on sexuality,
  • Compel employers to pay for sex-reassignment surgeries,
  • Threaten employers or schools that don’t conform to preferred-pronoun usage,
  • And pressure employers to suppress any statements by employees expressing disapproval of same-sex relationships and sex-reassignment procedures.

While Gorsuch’s majority opinion offered some weak assurances against these kinds of cases, Alito forcefully disagreed.

“What the Court has done today – interpreting discrimination because of ‘sex’ to encompass discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity – is virtually certain to have far-reaching consequences,” Alito concluded. “The Court’s brusque refusal to consider the consequences of its reasoning is irresponsible.”

What does this ruling mean for Ministries? Read this 3-point analysis by Josh Hershberger of TFL’s The Daniel Initiative ally in Indiana.




End-of-session update: 2 pro-life measures pass

In the morning hours of Sunday, June 14, the Iowa Legislature, after 16 continuous hours of session, passed a pair of pro-life measures:

  • The “Alfie Evans” bill, which protects children from being removed from life support over their parents’ objection,
  • And an added amendment to the bill, which requires a 24-hour consideration period before a woman can have an abortion.

By Sunday afternoon, however, the Legislature adjourned for 2020 without passing the Protect Life Amendment.

The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats, Chuck Hurley, and Danny Carroll discuss these emotionally charged and important developments in the video below:

As Chuck explained, TFL and Iowa’s Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders “left it all on the field” to see the Protect Life Amendment passed.

Without such an amendment in place, the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that declared abortion a “fundamental right” leaves the door open for abortion extremists to pursue not only late-term abortions up the to the day of a baby’s birth, but also taxpayer funded abortions.

There can be little doubt that pro-life Iowans are sorely disappointed the Protect Life Amendment was not passed.

It should be noted, however, that the Alfie Evans bill is a victorious culmination of years of pro-life work. What’s more, the 24-hour provision could set up a legal challenge to the 2018 “fundamental right” ruling before a very different Iowa Supreme Court, which has seen Gov. Kim Reynolds appoint four new justices since that 2018 ruling.

The news today is thus mixed: disappointment, yes, but also two steps forward. At The FAMiLY Leader, we are praising God that Iowa’s pro-life community has remained united in the defense of life, that more and more pro-life legislation continues to be passed, and that after decades of struggling to turn the tide, we are marching forward. We are winning. And we will continue to work until all innocent life is treasured and protected by law, from conception to natural death.

THANK YOU for praying, for reaching out to your elected officials, for supporting The FAMiLY Leader, and for partnering with us in this life-saving work!




Des Moines police, pastors kneel together in prayer

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Monday evening, June 1, over 100 pastors, religious, community, and government leaders met on the steps of the Des Moines Police Department to pray for Iowa’s governing leaders and to ask God to bring peace, healing, and restoration to a nation in turmoil over the death of black Americans at the hands of police.

The meeting was inspired by the “kneel down” event in New Orleans and the peaceful, kneeling resolution of a standoff between police and protesters in Des Moines, both on Sunday.

On Monday evening, police officers in Des Moines again took a knee, this time to receive prayer from community pastors.

“It is vitally important for the Body of Christ to come together like this, cross-denominationally, city/suburb, cross-ethnically, and stand as one, and that can only come through Jesus Christ,” said event moderator Al Perez of Help Des Moines, a group of pastors that seeks to meet community needs in Des Moines. “And it looks like what’s going on behind me right here. … We are the intercessors, but we are also the answer to prayer at the same time.”

Perez, with assistance of The FAMiLY Leader Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker, contacted a wide diversity of pastors across the metro and surrounding areas, asking them to join with each other and government officials in praying for peace and resolution.

In addition to police officers, the pastors prayed over guests Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, and Des Moines Chief of Police Dana Wingert.

“Tonight marks a breakthrough,” said Baker. “For six years we’ve been working to get church leaders and government leaders to partner together. So far, we’ve built successful partnerships in the areas of policy and community organization, but this is the first time that we’ve seen leaders in government and in the Church come to the end of themselves and realize they need to partner together in prayer.”

Baker continued, “There was genuine Christian community here tonight. There was something special going on. The Bible tells us to honor our leaders, and this was a great example of the Church doing it.”

Gov. Reynolds took time at the event to thank pastors for ministering not just to her, but to Iowa communities in need of healing and hope.

“The power that prayer and you have working through our community and our elected officials – that’s just the beginning of what is possible,” she said. “So thank you for forging those relationships, for reaching out to law enforcement in our community and for making a difference each and every day.”

Pastor David Sixtos, who helped negotiate the kneeling standoff between police and protesters Sunday evening, also attended the Monday evening event.

“We have the same heart for the police and for the protestors,” Sixtos said. “We want Jesus to be the peacemaker and allow God to do what He wants to do.”

“We are here because we know the real answer to these problems is Christ. The real need is transformation from within,” said Pastor Luke Hukee at Walnut Creek Downtown Church. “God is powerful and bigger than any race divide or injustice, so we believe that gathering together and praying is the best thing we can do.”

The hour-long event included prayer for Gov. Reynolds, Mayor Cownie, Chief Wingert, police officers as a whole, pastors of minority churches, pastors of large churches, small churches, college ministries, the youth, all the schools in the Des Moines area, student and college ministries that are working with troubled youth, Latino pastors for the community affected by the pandemic, and for the division between denominations. The event concluded with prayer by women who serve in parachurch ministries that seek revival and transformation.




Iowa begins to open: What does it mean?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced many of the restrictions we have lived under during the COVID-19 crisis will be lifted June 1. What does it mean for churches, for the Family Leadership Summit, for you? TFL’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker discuss:

Join us July 17 at The Family Leadership Summit. Get your tickets today!




VIDEO: Burdened Iowa leaders need your prayers

The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker discuss meetings with Church, state, and national leaders, who have governed under a heavy, human burden for weeks. These servants of God need our prayers, and Bob and Greg share how YOU can pray for those who care for us:

Join us July 17 at The Family Leadership Summit. Get your tickets today!

Join tens of thousands around the world in praying for revival through the FREE If 7:14 phone app!




Governor’s press conference highlights church response

The FAMiLY Leader’s Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker joined Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds by invitation for her daily live press conference on Friday, May 1. Baker shared an update on how churches across Iowa are working to responsibly reopen their doors and how many churches have been stepping in to care for needy Iowans during the coronavirus crisis.

Baker also gave some background on how the state of Iowa has come to partner with churches fur just such a time as this:

“For six years [The FAMiLY Leader Church Ambassador Network] has been working with churches to develop relationships with our elected officials, bringing together shepherds of the Church (pastors) with shepherds of government (elected authorities) with the purpose of building relationships as a person, as a shepherd, and as a partner in meeting community needs,” Baker said. “And this COVID-19 crisis has shown the need for that partnership.”

Baker cited examples of churches around the state that responded to specific needs identified by the governor. Following collaborative discussions with government officials, Iowa churches stepped up to staff food banks, conduct blood drives, deliver food to the elderly, produce personal protective equipment for medical personnel, and more.

“Jesus came to serve, and we want to serve as well,” Baker said.

Gov. Reynolds also expressed appreciation for churches that are taking virus-safety concerns seriously, even as they’re hoping to reopen their doors.

“In times like these, it’s our faith that gives so many of us the strength that we need, and I’ve been very impressed with how religious communities have remained connected even while they’re apart,” Reynolds said. “I want to thank all religious leaders for their thoughtful, responsible approach.”

Watch Baker’s comments at the governor’s press conference below:

Read TFL’s guidelines and recommendations for reopening churches in Iowa here.




VIDEO: Iowa opens, but what about churches?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has defended religious liberty and issued a new proclamation about opening churches. But with liberty comes responsibility. TFL’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker discuss how churches can embrace their liberty with diligence and a servant’s heart:

Read TFL’s guidelines and recommendations for reopening churches in Iowa here.