We were in the news! A very positive story by a very fair-minded reporter.
From The National Post.
Praying for good, honest government in Ottawa
David Akin, Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Since 2005, Christian group National House of Prayer has been sitting in the public gallery of the House of Commons, silently praying for the politicians below.
OTTAWA — When the political fight in the House of Commons gets particularly nasty and noisy, Rob and Fran Parker literally look to the heavens for some sanity and civility.
The Parkers are the founders and leaders of the National House of Prayer and, on just about any day that the House of Commons has been sitting since 2005, the Parkers or a group from the NHOP are sitting high up in the public gallery at the south end of the House of Commons silently offering a prayer for all the politicians squabbling beneath them.
“People may be surprised to hear this, but our main agenda is not for a Christian government,” Rob Parker said. “We’re just praying for good government, for fair government, free of corruption, which respects the whole of the nation. I believe that that’s God’s ideal.”
The Parkers hail from Vernon, B.C., where, after 13 years leading a community baptist church there, Rob Parker said he felt a calling. In 2000, he did a “prayer walk” from Calgary to Ottawa, surveying evangelical churches along the way to learn how they interacted with their federal government.
While the liturgies of some churches, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, routinely include prayers for political leaders, Parker found that in evangelical churches, prayer for federal politicians was rare.
Now, partly as a result of the work of the NHOP, Christian evangelical churches are thinking about Ottawa more and more.
“Our whole focus was unity in the church and to see Christians more aware of our nation,” said Rob Parker.
When they first came to Ottawa in 2005, the Parkers set up shop in a space in Ottawa’s Byward Market, but are now based out of a former convent that has embassies and other official buildings as neighbours a few kilometres from the prime minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive.
There, the National House of Prayer hosts prayer teams from across Canada who come to the national capital for a few days or weeks at a time.
Despite the economic downturn in 2009, the NHOP was as busy as ever with visits from prayer teams.
They stay in the converted convent, hold prayer meetings and learn up close how their federal government works. Rob Parker said he always makes it a point to connect each prayer team with its local MP and even senator while they’re in Ottawa.
The Parkers and their staff hold trips to the Supreme Court, to House of Commons committee meetings, to the Senate and other spots where the nation’s business is conducted.
Many of those who travel for a stay at the National House of Prayer are visiting Ottawa for the first time. In 2007, one lucky prayer team from Fort Saskatchewan Christian School in Edmonton met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Harper’s House of Commons office.
The Parkers insist, though, that their work is non-partisan. They are not, they say, praying for one particular political party’s success over another.
“For us, a key focus is it’s not OK to leave your Christianity within the four walls of a church. You’ve got take it out and engage with it.”