Retired Michigan Congressman Reflects on Faith and Politics

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Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers retired in November after 17 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ehlers, a member of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., said faith has been at the center of his political career. “If our faith is sincere, it should affect every part of our life, including our political activity.”

Ehlers was a faithful participant in a weekly prayer breakfast and a weekly Bible study.

He began his political career with a goal to serve honorably. He saw tremendous need in the area surrounding his church, and wanted to help ensure that all children had access to a good education. He was also concerned with the national infrastructure, and didn’t hesitate to tell people that if they wanted better roads they would need to pay for them.

He also felt called to care for God’s beautiful creation, which led him to pass the most comprehensive environmental bill to date while he was serving in the Michigan legislature. That bill went on to serve as a model for other states.

Ehlers wishes more church members would run for political office. “[Church members] should be more politically active,” he said.

Asked about the timing of his retirement at age 76, he responded, “This seemed like a good time to retire before I lost important faculties. I didn’t want to become one of the old fogies in Congress.”

Prior to going to Washington, Ehlers had been a university professor, including a stint at Calvin College, which is owned by the CRC. He also served 11 years in the Michigan legislature.

About the Author

Noah Kruis is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Grand Rapids East and Grand Rapids North.

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