In the coming weeks, the United States House of Representatives Chaplain will select a new chaplain to fill the vacancy left by retiring Fr. Daniel P. Coughlin. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is charged with approving the new pastor to the House congressional community.
Supplementing the Speaker’s decision-making process is a search committee he will appoint, made up of members of congress. Additionally, in recent weeks Faith and Action has played an advisory role through its National Clergy Council executive committee. Rev. Johnny Wade Sloan of Hamilton Christian Center in Hamilton, Ohio – a Faith and Action Anchor Church in Mr. Boehner’s home congressional district – has been selected to chair Faith and Action’s official Advisory Commission on the House Chaplaincy. Rev. Sloan has known Speaker Boehner for many years.
Replacing Rev. Coughlin will be no easy task. Having developed a very good relationship with the House Chaplain for over 15 years, Rev. Schenck called Fr. Coughlin “the consummate pastor.” Before being assigned to the House Chaplain position, Rev. Coughlin was the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago – a highly respected pastor to pastors.
The House Chaplain’s ministry is much different than the work of a local church pastor. He ministers to over 10,000 people because it is not just the members of congress and their families under his spiritual care, but all of the staff and personnel associated with the House side of the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. Because of this great burden, the enormity of the task in electing a new House Chaplain – particularly considering that he will likely serve for many years – is not one that Faith and Action takes lightly. Thus, the task of working with Rev. Sloan and advising Speaker Boehner will be undertaken carefully and prayerfully.