Bethel pastor leads prayer in Congress
by Anna Oakes
Bethel Baptist Church Pastor Charlie Martin gave the opening prayer at the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Martin was invited to deliver the opening prayer as part of the House's guest chaplain program and was nominated by U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx.
Foxx shared remarks about Martin, who has served as the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church for seven years. Previously, he had pastored First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo, Fla., since 1971.
"The Lord blessed the 37 years he spent there, with the church growing from fewer than 100 to over 6,000 members under his care," Foxx said. "We are blessed to have this man of God living and working in our community in the mountains of North Carolina, and I thank him for opening the House with a prayer today."
Martin said he not only led the opening prayer at the House on Tuesday, but also had the opportunity to pray with individual House members. Foxx invited Martin to observe two House committee meetings, as well.
"I said I would be honored," said Martin, who added that he travels to Washington every two or three years to share his political opinions with the nation's leaders. "I love our country and want to have some type of an influence."
Martin has given the opening prayer in the House once before, when he was a pastor in Florida. Guest clergy are required to pay for all of the expenses of the trip.
"It's a hotbed of activity up there right now," Martin said. "Whether you're the president or you're Harry Reid or you're John Boehner, you have great responsibility, and I always look for the opportunity to pray with people. I believe in prayer, and I believe that our government needs a lot of prayer right now."