By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
All Frank Carpenter and Greg Wooldridge need to launch their respective new Christian outreaches is a couple of literal open doors — one in Salem, and one in Olympia, Wash.
Once COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted at the State Capitol buildings for both Oregon and Washington, and the general public allowed back in, the two men can fully begin to minister to legislators and staffers through California-based Capitol Ministries.
For Carpenter, who ministered independently in the Salem Capitol from 1985 to 1996, and then continued there with Capitol Ministries until 2005, it will mark a return to outreach in Salem after two decades. For Wooldridge, a former Oregon resident who moved in recent years to Vancouver, Wash., it will be his first involvement with Capitol Ministries.
Capitol Ministries seeks to evangelize elected and appointed political leaders and lead them toward maturity in Christ. It purposely “stays away from politics and concentrates on the hearts of leaders,” according to its website.
Founded by Ralph and Danielle Drolllinger, Capitol Ministries initially focused on the spiritual needs of legislators and constitutional officers in California’s Capitol in Sacramento. That outreach was duplicated in many other states. In 2010, Ralph Drollinger established the first national ministry in Washington, D.C., where he began a weekly Bible study to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2015, a separate ministry was planted for U.S. senators, and in 2017, a ministry was created to members of President Donald Trump’s White House Cabinet — the first of its kind in more than 100 years.
Capitol Ministries has also created discipleship Bible studies to the political leaders of 24 nations on four continents.
Capitol Ministries Local Government is a fairly new endeavor that has an objective of creating ministries to the estimated 500,000 local city and county leaders in the more than 40,000 incorporated communities in the United States.
Capitol Ministries’ long-term vision is to create 200 ministries in 200 foreign nations; 50 ministries in 50 state capitols; ministries to all three branches of government in Washington, D.C.; and 10,000 ministries in 40,000 neighborhoods across America.
Carpenter, 75, lived in Arizona from 2005 to 2012, when he moved back to Hillsboro. He is part-time on the pastoral staff at First Baptist Church in Hillsboro and is founder of Hillsboro Huddle, a ministry for community leaders. Carpenter received his master of divinity degree from Western Seminary and has been in pastoral ministry for more than 43 years.
Carpenter said there was no hesitancy on his part when Drollinger asked him to reinstitute the outreach in Salem. “I was eager to do it,” he said.
Wooldridge, 73, served in the U.S. Navy 27 years. During the final decade of his career, he served on three occasions as the flight leader and commanding officer of the Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. In 2018, while still an Oregon resident, he ran for governor in the GOP primary, losing the nomination to Knute Buehler, who eventually lost to Democrat Kate Brown in the general election.
But Wooldridge said he will be careful not to let partisanship influence at all his outreach in Olympia, as he will seek to represent the love of Jesus to Republicans, Democrats or independents.“I’m not going to introduce politics into anything I do in Capitol Ministries,” he said.
Encouraged to take the Olympia assignment by Carpenter, and familiar with Drollinger from past contacts, Wooldridge went to California for training from Capitol Ministries.“I’m not a seminary grad, but I have the passion here,” he said.
Carpenter said he knows the spiritual atmosphere might be a bit different in the Capitol in Salem than it was 20 years ago: “There might be fewer Christians there, at least that I am aware of, but the Lord has His people everywhere and opens doors when He wants. We’re going to take it easy and not try to push any buttons.”
Wooldridge hopes in Olympia to have morning meetings and Bible studies with interested legislators and staffers: “We want to build an incredible amount of trust, camaraderie and relationships.”
For more information, contact Carpenter at 503-330-4688 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Wooldridge at 503-939-4408 or email@example.com, or go to the ministry website, capmin.org