Back at home in Wausau, WI, my family is a part of a medium-sized Presbyterian…
Jenni Geurink is a Senior at UW Madsion, majoring in Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies.
I’ve always liked talking about the “things you weren’t supposed to talk about,” namely politics and religion. I grew up in a devout Presbyterian home and as I got older, I really found a passion for politics, but these were always in two very separate, parallel tracks. In my church you didn’t talk about politics, and in political circles, especially Democratic ones, faith was a really taboo subject. So it wasn’t until college that these two passions of mine really started to merge.
When I stumbled upon the Pres House community, our country was, and still is, working through serious racial injustice. But unlike other faith communities I’ve been a part of, we talked about it. We talked about what was going on in everyday life, the good and the bad, in the same space we talked about the beauty of God’s creation and the promise God gives us for the future. Slowly, the cogs started to turn. I’ve long believed that my faith does and should impact every part of my life, because it’s a part of me. But it wasn’t until we had these tough conversations as a community, that I saw how deeply my faith impacts and informs my politics, that I saw how much Jesus has to say about current events.
In the wake of the November 2016 election, many of us were struggling to sort through the slurry of news happening each day. And it was hard, even as someone who has always been interested in politics, it was hard to read and keep up with the constant battery of news. I didn’t want to do it alone, but I knew it was more important than ever to hold the administration accountable, that many people’s lives were vulnerable to its policies. Here, it became evident I needed a community to process with and I knew there were other Pres House folks looking for the same thing.
So with Erica’s help, Jessie and I created Prayer3, a space where we can explicitly talk about the intersection between our faith and politics. For a short 30 minutes each week, we met to talk about the pertinent news of the week, to process this together as a body. But we also framed this news within the context of our faith and looked for what the Bible has to say about topics ranging from immigration to climate change. Most importantly, though, we worked to do something about it. We called and wrote our legislators; we sent letters of love to our neighbors. Our faith calls us to act, but slowly I think we all came to understand that that action is political when our faith calls us to stand up for the downtrodden and care for all of God’s creation.
I hope that you’ll join us this semester for Prayer3 whether you’re avid political junkies like Erik and I or are just looking for a way to navigate current events. Each Wednesday we’ll meet from 4-4:30, so we can continue to learn, reflect, and act together as Christian community to talk about “the things you’re not supposed to talk about.”