Friends News

In the Face of Censorship, VFCC Alumnus Stands Up For His Beliefs

by Office of Marketing | Mar 30, 2011
In June of 2009, Pastor Gerry Stoltzfoos '90 was asked by a congressman in his church to open a session of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in prayer. Hesitating at first, Gerry finally agreed, but was surprised to receive a call from the Office of the Speaker of the House requesting a copy of his prayer. Opposed to pre-planning his conversations with God, Gerry at first said "no thank you" until his congressman friend persuaded him to reconsider. After emailing the prayer, he received word back asking him if he could edit it for one "offensive" word at the end - Jesus. Not willing to compromise, Gerry asked the requestor to please find someone else to pray. 

As this request to edit the prayer came through his email, Gerry happened to be on the phone with a reporter, to whom he relayed the email thread. Sensing significant story potential, the reporter asked if she could write and publish an account of Gerry's experience. It was printed the next day in the Pittsburgh Gazette. But that wasn't the end of Gerry's experience with reporters. In the next four days, he participated in 29 interviews about his decision. Six days after the story was first printed, the Pennsylvania State Senate called to ask Gerry to pray that exact prayer at an opening session, where he was treated like a celebrity and a hero. He finds the whole event has been "an amazing experience." 

Gerry has been the pastor of Freedom Valley Worship Center in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania since it's inception in 1992. In the last 19 years, the church has supported 26 church plants. Gerry has been featured on Oprah's Miracle Detectives for a study on speaking in tongues, and recently published a book about the 83% of unchurched Americans, entitled 83 Lost Sheep.