Senate Chaplain Black

the interview

Senate Chaplain Barry Black Interview: 'Politicians Meet Every Week To Pray'

Sep 27, 2017 by Will Maule

Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black is the 62nd chaplain of the United States Senate. He is also the first African American and Seventh-day Adventist to ever hold this esteemed office. For over 27 years, Black served in the US Navy and rose to the rank of rear admiral. Now, his role involves holding prayer meetings and Bible studies on Capitol Hill, as well as offering spiritual counsel to lawmakers. HelloChristian.com caught up with Chaplain Black to ask him about his job, and to discuss his new book, Nothing To Fear.

1. You have a fascinating job title! Our readers would love to know what your day-to-day working life looks like as Senate Chaplain. Could you give us a brief outline of what you do?
Chaplain Black: "I am the pastor for approximately 7,000 people on the Senate side of Capitol Hill. I conduct Bible studies, spiritual mentoring classes, and interpersonal relationship counseling sessions. I do work space visitations, hospital visitations, and facilitate for seasonal observances. These seasonal observances are provided for Christians and non-Christians. I coordinate a Guest Chaplain program, assist with the weekly Senators’ Bible study, officiate at weddings and funerals, and represent the Senate in speaking engagements around the nation and beyond. In short, I provide ministry support for the upper chamber of the Legislative Branch of the United States government."

2. As a spiritual leader at the heart of government, what are some of the most pressing issues you envisage for our nation in the months and years to come? 
Chaplain Black: "I believe that we as a nation face the challenge of unifying our people, who represent a tapestry of diversity. It is important that we provide opportunities for people from different backgrounds to experience the American dream. I believe also we will have to deal with the issue of terrorism and find a way to bring this asymmetrical threat into manageable parameters. A final issue I believe will be germane is the relationship of law enforcement to marginalized subcultures of our society."

3. What would say the current spiritual atmosphere is like in Government?
Chaplain Black: "I believe the current, spiritual atmosphere in the United States Senate is fairly robust. Lawmakers meet each week for a prayer breakfast and Bible study, praying and fellowshipping together. These lawmakers come from both sides of the aisle. These Senators reflect the spirituality of many of their constituents who are praying fervently for America."

4. Has your role changed since President Trump took office?
Chaplain Black: "My appointment, as Chaplain of the United States Senate, does not change because of anything that happens in the Executive Branch of our nation’s government."

5. I read that you run a weekly Bible study for Senate staff. That is so cool! How do you structure these times? Do you get a good number of politicians turning up? 
Chaplain Black: "The Bible study is structured with 8-10 open-ended questions, followed by a Bible passage. These questions are discussed with the guidance of an undergirding thesis and theme. Senators attend their Bible study and staffers and others attend a similar religious education outreach as well."

6. How do you advise politicians on spiritual matters whilst remaining completely non-partisan politically? Is it a challenge?
Chaplain Black: "My advice to our lawmakers on spiritual matters is based upon Biblical admonition, so it is quite straightforward. This makes my advisory task less daunting."

7. The past couple of years have been very politically divisive. Do you have any advice on how we can work together via the common ground of our Christian faith?
Chaplain Black: "I believe that Christians can find common ground by implementing the strategy proposed in 2 Chronicles 7:14. God promises that if those who are called by His name, will humble themselves, pray, and seek His face, then He will hear their prayers, forgive their sins, and heal their land. This is a simple if/then proposition from God to His people." 

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8. The title of your new book is 'Nothing To Fear.' Many Americans feel very fearful. What would you say to these individuals, and how can this book help them quell their fears?
Chaplain Black: "I would remind the fearful of the words of 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear.” I would challenge people to develop a loving and dependent relationship with God, focusing on His power and might, as they remember that “in everything He works for the good of those who love Him.”"

9. Throughout your book, you give helpful 'Fearless Principles,' such as 'God has already given us the gift of salvation.' Could you highlight 3 or 4 others from the book, and explain how we can apply them to our lives?
Chaplain Black: "One of the fearless principles I talk about is “spend your time, don’t hoard it.” This involves focusing on giving as much as you can to serve God’s purposes for your life in your generation. We are created to serve humanity, becoming salt and light in our world (Matthew 5:13-16). We give rather than hoard because tomorrow isn’t promised. This perspective resonates with the sentiment of Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days that we may have hearts of wisdom.”"

10. What is your ultimate hope for the US government in these coming years?
Chaplain Black: "My hope is that those who work in the United States government and outside of the political arena will remember that righteousness exalts a nation, but that sin destroys. I hope that this knowledge will inspire our leaders and citizens to strive for ethical congruence."

11. Finally, how can we pray for you?
Chaplain Black: "I would solicit your prayers that God will give me wisdom, favor, and a double portion of spiritual power."

Barry C. Black has just released his new book Nothing To Fear. Get hold of your copy here!


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