In Harper’s Ferry, WV, the Rev John Unger an ordained Lutheran (ELCA) pastor leads the local Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches in town, leading worship each Sunday at all three.
ABERNETHY: When the 8 am Episcopal service is over, John walks a block to his Lutheran church to lead the 9:30 service there. John talks his sermons, which are slightly different at each church. Cara Unger, John’s wife, is a school teacher who also teaches at the Sunday school here.
Unger thinks the interaction between his three churches can be a model for what could be done around the country: individual congregations working together but still keeping each one’s distinctive traditions. He also thinks the example here would be great for national politics.
UNGER: If these three denominations can sit down and have Bible study and dialogue and communion and still go back to their respective positions and doctrines and traditions, surely we ought to be able to do the same thing in our political realm. You are not going to be any less a Republican or a Democrat if you two start talking.
ABERNETHY: When Unger talks politics he is on familiar ground. He is not only the pastor of three churches he is also a state senator, indeed, a Democrat who has been the majority leader of the West Virginia Senate.
Unger says he is careful to not bring his politics into church, but does bring his faith into politics and his role as a legislator. Unger has long sought to integrate his faith into his work;
after graduation from West Virginia University he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. He spent a year with Mother Teresa in India. He was a missionary in Hong Kong. He helped boat people fleeing Vietnam and Kurdish refugees in Iraq.