The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives

Reverend B. William Vanderbloemen, Jr.

Memorial Presbyterian Church
Montgomery, AL

Sponsor: Rep. Rep. Richard Burr, (R-NC)
Date of Prayer: 07/19/2001

One Minute Speech Given in Recognition of the Guest Chaplain:

Mr. BURR of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to welcome the Reverend William Vanderbloemen to the House Chamber. I have known William's family since my football–playing days at Wake Forest, and it is a pleasure to have such a fine young man here to lead us in prayer as we begin this day's work.

William is a native of Lenoir, North Carolina, and attended Wake Forest University and graduated in 1992 with a degree in history. He then attended seminary at Princeton where he received his Masters in Divinity in 1995, with the goal of becoming a professor or scholarly author; but as his studies intensified, it became clear to him that he would call the pulpit his home.

Mr. Speaker, the Presbyterian faith is better because of his choice. Upon graduating Princeton, William took an associate pastorship at First Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. After a successful campaign in the mountains of North Carolina, William received a call from Memorial Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, to be its head minister.

Memorial Presbyterian Church is a church with a place in the history of the civil rights movement of the last half of the 20th century. Opening shortly after World War II, in the middle of the 1950s, it was the first church in Montgomery to desegregate by offering open seating to members of both races. During the last 5 decades, Memorial has seen many changes, some causing divisions within the church family. In fact, when Reverend Vanderbloemen took over Memorial in 1998, they were meeting in a local YMCA, and 150 members in attendance was a good Sunday. Since 1998, membership has tripled and Memorial Presbyterian opened the first building on its new location on the east side of Montgomery. William founded the InStep Ministries, a series of syndicated radio spots aired daily and on secular stations; and one of the radio pieces prevented a suicide and that person is now a member of Memorial Presbyterian.

William serves on the board of the Presbyterian Coalition, a national gathering of leaders within the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., as well as the Ministerial Board of Advisors to the Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Melissa, have three children, Matthew who is here with us today, as are Mary and Sarah Catherine.

Mr. Speaker, I know all my colleagues join me in welcoming Reverend Vanderbloemen and thanking him for offering this morning's prayer .

Opening Prayer Given by the Guest Chaplain:

Eternal and everlasting God, we thank You that You have given us another day. And not only another day, O Lord, but a day in the greatest country in the world. Today we ask that You bless us, bless us indeed, and allow our Nation to prosper. We pray that You keep Your hand upon us, protect us from evil, and keep us from causing pain. Bless us O Lord.

Lord, we shudder to think that You have called us to be the leaders of this great Nation, and we humbly ask for Your help. If the task is left only to us and to our abilities, we will surely fail, O Lord. If we should seek to build this country on our own guidance, we will build only a house of cards. But You O Lord, are the rock; may You be our foundation and our help today.

We know O God, that You do not simply call the qualified to lead, but You qualify the called. So qualify us by Your grace. Empower us to follow the calling You have given us.

May we as individuals, as a deliberative body, and as a nation, follow You

To learn more about Members who have sponsored a Guest Chaplain, please visit the Congressional Biographical Directory