Lewis Explains Survey Sent to School Board Candidates
February 3, 2022
Dear New Glarus Community,
With the upcoming school board primary election on Tuesday, February 15th, the Community Impact Team of Grace Church in New Glarus decided to put together a survey that was emailed to the five running nominees. The purpose of the survey was to ask questions that are or could be of concern to members in our congregation that live in New Glarus. The Community Impact Team compiled the survey questions based on moral issues being debated and acted on in the public arena. To create the survey, the team started with, and modified as necessary, a survey used with recent school board candidates by the Pennsylvania Family Council and was sent to the team by the Family Research Council. We believe that, as voters, our members should be given information on which to make their voting decisions. Since there was no open forum (that we were aware of) the survey was created and sent. As voters we should be able to ask about all issues and to know where candidates stand on all issues, to make an educated vote. As a church with a 501 (c)(3) status, we know that legally we cannot endorse, oppose, or campaign for candidates. We have never done that and had no plans on doing that with this survey. According to the IRS Revenue Ruling 2007-41, 501 (c)(3) organizations are permitted to prepare non-partisan voter education guides. The survey we emailed to every candidate is how we intended to gather the information for a nonpartisan voter education guide. At the time of this writing, no candidates have responded to the survey.
Unfortunately, some of the nominees found the survey inappropriate coming from the church and found some of the questions offensive. As soon as I heard this, I was very concerned and sent an email to the candidates to apologize for any offense and tried to share our heart behind the survey and our love for the community. Instead of asking me or anyone at Grace Church for clarification, the survey and my personal email to the candidates was shared with others, and one person decided to air it out on Facebook. The resulting discussion was filled with hateful, judgmental, and crude comments, including incorrect information about our church and beliefs. These slanderous comments were made by individuals who do not really know who we are or what we believe and were very hurtful to some in our congregation.
To clear up any rumors you may have heard, or misinformation taken from the survey, we as a church are not anti-mask or anti-vaccine. We are not against those who are part of the LGBTQ community nor are we racist, but do our best to love everyone. We are not against women’s rights or sex education. We are not a cult and those who say this do not truly know Grace Church.
Anyone who knows Grace Church or who has been in the community long enough knows our heart for the community. Over the 30 years as a congregation, we’ve always made it a point to support those in need, and not just those who attend Grace Church. We have a food pantry that’s open to anyone, we often help people pay their rent or utility bills, and we’ve even given people shelter. We also support the Caring for Kids program at the school, and we’ve given financially to students who needed school supplies. Most of Green County is also familiar with our annual Family Fest in September, which is completely free and open to everyone. We care about people, and we want what’s best for the kids and families in our schools. Being informed voters concerning the school board election is one way we can advocate for the children in our community. That was the intent and heart with which we sent out the survey. We love New Glarus and its people. If anyone has any questions, they can contact me anytime at Grace Church.
Pastor John Lewis