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Louisville Seminary Trustees Meet With President-Elect Trump

Jan 18, 2017

On Wednesday, January 18, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Trustees  Rev. Scott Black Johnston (pictured left) and Rev. Patrick O'Connor (pictured right) met with President-elect Donald Trump.

Scott Black Johnston and Patrick O'ConnotThe churches where Johnston and O'Connor serve both have connections with the Trump family. O'Connor is the senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, New York, the church where Trump's mother, Mary, an immigrant from Scotland, was a member, and where her son was baptized and confirmed. When he takes the oath of office on Friday, the incoming President will rest his hand on the Lincoln Bible and on the Bible his mother gave him when he graduated from the First Jamaica Sunday Church Primary School in 1955.

Johnston's grandparents were also immigrants from Scotland and members of First Presbyterian Jamaica, Queens. Johnston's father and uncles were baptized in the same font as the President-elect. Johnston serves as senior pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church that stands nearer to Trump Tower than any church in the city, whose steeple the Trump family can see from their windows.

"Given these unique connections, Patrick and I knew we had an opportunity that few other pastors have -- a chance to speak face to face with the man who is about to assume the leadership of this country," said Johnston. "We believe we had a responsibility, as Christians, to offer prayer and honest counsel to the President-elect."

Johnston and O'Connor's meeting with Trump lasted about 20 minutes. According to Johnston, they spent most of their brief time with Mr. Trump in prayer. They asked for God's help in healing deep societal rifts and in stepping forward to create a nation that serves all of its people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and in need.

"We know that evangelical Christians and proponents of the prosperity gospel have had Mr. Trump's ear," said Johnston. "So I reminded him that millions of Americans belong to what I described as 'purple churches,' congregations that are politically, economically and ethnically diverse. We vote in different ways, and yet, by the grace of God, we worship as one people. We believe that our unity depends not on lock-step agreement, but on the Christ who claims us and calls us to care for the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. (Matthew 25:31-36)

"These moderate and progressive churches are on the front lines as our nation addresses many of its most pressing issues: racism, homelessness, immigration, health care, economic opportunity and opiate addiction. Our thoughts about and responses to these issues are rooted in our faith."

Johnston and O'Connor offered to speak with the President-elect at any time about the path they believe Jesus calls us to walk as citizens, and the unique perspectives of their "purple" churches.

At the conclusion of their meeting, Johnston and O'Connor offered the following prayer on behalf of President-elect Trump and the entire nation.

A Prayer for the United States of America and the President-Elect

Almighty God,
all the people of the earth are yours.
We are all your children.

Your will is done when
     governments are rightly administered,
     liberty is preserved,
     justice is decreed,
     dignity is assured,
     and care is extended to the most vulnerable of your children.

This day, we ask that you would look with favor on President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Protect him and keep his family safe.

Grant to him equal doses of courage and humility.
Guide him as he makes countless decisions.
Give him wisdom and mercy.

Enable him to find the right words: good words, true words, healing words.

Our country's differences and divisions are vast.
Deliver us, loving God, from rancor and cynicism.
Forgive our sins.
Encourage us to kindness.

Teach us to mend the tattered places in this society.
Give us hope and holy perspective for the living of these days.

Tender Creator, in some ways -- important ways -- we all want the same things.

We want opportunity.
We want fairness from our government.
We want safety. We want order.
We want clean water and fresh air.

We want to come home at night feeling like we are making progress, like we are part of something bigger than ourselves, like we matter.

We all want to matter.

Give to us all, O Lord, in this time, common purpose and an uncommon commitment to this great country.
Help us to work together to achieve a more perfect union -- a nation that is more than the sum of its parts.

Mold the President-elect into your servant.
Help him to lead us in pursuing your extraordinary vision.

This we pray in the name of the One who calls all people to reconciling and redemptive work, Jesus Christ, our Lord.


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