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With all the division of politics between Democrats and Republicans, it can be hard to think there is anything that can break through party politics. But Barry Black, Senate Chaplain since 2003, thinks faith and prayer can bring people together from both sides of the political aisle. In a 2009 interview with C-SPAN, he commented on how spirituality encompasses both groups. “I think one of the little-known facts about the Senate is the level of spirituality among Senators,” he said. “The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4 said, ‘There are saints in Caesar’s household.’ And many people believe he was actually talking about Emperor Nero. So, if Nero had saints in his household, you can – you can expect some spiritually fit individuals on Capitol Hill as well. And it’s very interesting because Senators from both sides of the aisle participate in the Prayer Breakfasts and in the Bible study.” 

Black, a retired Rear Admiral from the US Navy, is no stranger to combative situations. He joined the Navy in 1976, receiving numerous awards for his service, including the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal twice. In 2000, he became the Chief of Chaplains for the Navy. As Black told The Christian Post, the ministry was always something he wanted to do. “I’ve never wanted to do anything but a ministry. I think the primary reason is that when my mother was pregnant with me, she was baptized, and she asked, as she was being immersed baptismally, that the Holy Spirit would place a special blessing and anointing upon me as an unborn child,” he said. Black is a Seventh Day Adventist, a spiritual heritage that was passed down to him from his mother. His father was “in and out” of his life, but God raised up many male role models for him in his life. “I was fortunate because I belonged to a very large church, probably 800 members. There were enough adult male role models who enabled me to make up for the deficit of not having that at home. Moreover, the church school that I attended also had a number of male teachers, and they served as role models as well,” he said. Despite positive role models, Black did gravitate toward gang life as a teen in search of the missing father in his life. 

However, by the grace of God, Black and his siblings managed to escape the cycle of poverty. Black went on to become an alumnus of multiple universities and has a Ph.D. in psychology, a doctorate in theology, a master’s degree in management and a Master of Divinity degree. In college, he also met his wife, Brenda Pearsall Black. The two have been married since 1973 and have three successful young sons. Black states that he is very fulfilled in his role as Senate Chaplain. “I teach Bible studies. I prepare sermons and preach. I write books and articles. I’ve written six books. … I represent many chaplains, the Department of the Senate, in churches around the nation. I officiated weddings and funerals. I do marriage preparation and marriage enrichment. So, I do the work of a full-time pastor. … That’s one of the things that’s exciting about this. Each day is different and rewarding.”

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