On Friday, January 2, John Petersburg will begin his second term at the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he will serve as the legislator from our district.
Since 1997, John has served here at Trinity as our congregational administrator. In that role, he has had oversight of our day-to-day operations, our financial record-keeping, supervising our front office and our buildings and grounds.
Occasionally, someone will ask me “how does it work to have a staff member also serving in the legislature?” That’s a great question.
To be honest, there are a few challenges. For the 4-5 months that the legislature is in session, John dramatically cuts his hours at Trinity back, to basically just 8 per week. During that time, we reconfigure our current staff roles to cover some of what John does, and then John is in the office working on Fridays and over the weekends to tend to the things that only he can address.
And John is very available during the week, responding to questions by phone or by text.
But while there are a few challenges, we also believe that it is a good thing for John to be doing. Martin Luther once said “Send your good men into ministry; but send your best men into politics.” It was one of Luther’s fundamental beliefs, and it is a basic understanding of our Lutheran doctrine, that it is the role of the Christian to engage in the world. Part of our mission is to make the world a better place…to live out our faith in the workplace, in our schools, and in the arena of government and leadership. This, rather than cut ourselves off from the world.
Luther believed that no where was it more important that people of faith engage than in the world of politics; that we have much to offer there. Having said that, let me be clear that the church doesn’t ever endorse any particular party, platform or candidate. We support people’s involvement in the process, but will never tell someone what or how to vote. That’s a matter of individual conscience.
So while Trinity definitely misses John’s presence while he is serving in the legislature, we support him in his work and his ministry there. And we pray for wisdom for John and his fellow legislators as well as the rest of our government as they seek the right path for our state and our nation.