The 2022 Iowa Legislative Session has come to a close, a date known to lawmakers as “sine die.” This brings a close to the 8th year of operation for the Church Ambassador Network. I wanted to take some time to share with you a few highlights from the legislative session:
1. Stats 500 connections between legislators and pastors during this sessionTotal connections in the legislative branch to 5,543 Total connections for all 3 branches is now 7,39085% of Iowa legislators connected with a pastor at least once this session35 Bibles were presented to freshmen legislators 44 legislators were taken through a white paper on shalom, which included a full gospel presentation 2. Legislation: A minimum of 72 times the Church Ambassador Network was able to connect with legislators on specific legislation relevant to the work churches are doing in Iowa communities.  Juvenile justice reform (foster care): Iowa ranks No. 6 in the nation for removing children from their homes. We successfully partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services in passing a law that significantly and responsibly changes the state’s approach to removal of a child from the home. This new law compliments the work we are doing with Together for Good, reduces foster-care placements in Iowa, and will reduce trauma in the lives of children. The law has strengthened our relationship with the department, and it has strengthened our reputation with the legislature, which now further sees the Church as part of the solution. In total, the Church Ambassador Network team testified in two subcommittees and presented to 44 legislators on this topic. 

Psychology licensing: In partnership with Cornerstone Church of Ames, we were able to join a coalition to pass legislation that makes more psychologists available in Iowa, as well as help keep them here after they graduate. The legislation passed the House and Senate with only one no vote. This legislation will help the mission of the Cornerstone Counseling Center, as well as strengthens our reputation at the legislature. The Church Ambassador Network met with 13 members of the House and Senate Human Resource Committee on psychology licensing.

School choice: We wanted to bring a diverse voice to the school choice discussion that really highlighted the Church and the gospel. Our goal was to illustrate the need for choice in education for urban Iowans, who often live in low performing school districts and are often without a voice at the Iowa Capitol. Throughout the legislative session, we highlighted and brought forward voices from urban Christian schools, who have been able to break bondage in their communities. The Church Ambassador Network team visited with 15 legislators on the impact school choice has on urban Iowa communities. Though legislation did not pass this session, we were able to help government leaders see the Church as a part of the solution. 

Israel: Denise Bubeck, deputy director of the Church Ambassador Network, worked with a coalition pf state leaders and the governor to pass two major pieces of legislation. The first added “anti-semetism” to the Iowa Civil Rights Code. The second strengthened Iowa’s existing anti-BDS law, meaning the State of Iowa will not invest in companies who boycott Israel.  3. Bringing Church and state together for solutions:  Foster care: We brought together state leaders from the executive and legislative branches to highlight ways we can prevent foster care and strengthen families in Iowa. Our highlight ministry for this work was Together for Good. We hosted a roundtable discussion with Department of Health and Human Services Director Kelly Garcia, Senate President Jake Chapman, and Senate Chairs Jeff Edler and Mark Costello. We also met individually with the Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst and House Chairs Joel Fry and Ann Meyer.

Addictions: We brought together state leaders from the executive and legislative branches to highlight ways we can break the bondage of drug and alcohol addictions and Iowa’s drug courts. We highlighted multiple ministries from around the state, including the communities of the Quad Cities, Ottumwa, Fairfield, Pella, and Knoxville. We hosted a roundtable discussion with Attorney General Tom Miller, House Chairs Gary Worthan and Gary Mohr, and Senate Chairs Tim Kraayenbrink and Julian Garrett. We were also able to individually meet with Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, House Judiciary Chair Steven Holt and Ottumwa Rep. Cherilyn Westrich.

Mental health: We hosted two mental health days, one with Pastor Mark Vance of Cornerstone, who advocated for a psychology bill and met with leaders from both parties on the House and Senate Human Resource Committee. The other day was with Candeo Church, in which they met with legislative leaders and Marissa Eyanson with DHHS. Both Cornerstone Church and Candeo Church have opened Christian counseling centers in their communities.

Education: We hosted two urban Christian education days with Chris Hurley, board chair of Joshua Christian Academy in Des Moines, and Jan Hochstetler, principal of Faith Academy in Iowa City. They all met with key leaders of the House and Senate Education Committees.  4. National Day of Prayer: This was the second year the Church Ambassador Network hosted the Iowa National Day of Prayer. We were so encouraged by the people who were able to come together to pray in the name of Jesus for our state and nation. Only through Christ can leaders from both parties, multiple branches of government, two different legislative chambers, urban and suburban, multiple races, and multiple denominations be brought together. That is exactly what happened at the Iowa National Day of Prayer. Joining us in prayer and worship included: Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Attorney General Tom Miller, Auditor Rob Sand, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Julie Kenney, West Des Moines Mayor Russ Trimble, Des Moines Chief of Police Dana Wingert, State Rep. Brooke Boden, Senate President Jake Chapman, Elim Arrival (North Liberty), Charles Daugherty, Jamel Crawford, and Doug Siedenberg.  In conclusion, we are so encouraged by the doors the Lord has opened for the Church at the State Capitol in Des Moines. And we know it is rooted in faithfully sowing the Word, praying for our leaders, and serving them over a long period of time. One meeting did not produce this fruit, rather 7,300 did.