Advocacy impelled by the Golden Rule

An interview with Tom Smith, director of public policy for the Ohio Council of Churches

Many Years Ago , Tom Smith faced a family crisis that changed the way he thought about his work. His wife was recovering from an illness and had to relearn ordinary activity. Tom was her teacher. At the time, he had a three-year-old and an eighteen-month-old to care for on top of his work. He says, "God was there for me giving me some kind of strength I didn't believe I could have. I had to repay [this] debt, reach out to those who can't take care of themselves."

This debt of service guided him through eighteen years of working for the Ohio Senate—six of those years as Senate clerk and chief of staff—and five years working for the state treasurer, Mary Ellen Withrow (now United States Treasurer). It didn't stop there, however. After he retired, he saw an ad for the director of public policy for the Ohio Council of Churches. "In my own way," he says, "I felt it was a calling."

Tom advocates on behalf of the Council before the Ohio legislature. He finds a Biblical basis for this advocacy in Jesus' Golden Rule, which he learned growing up in his Catholic church: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12). This passage also undergirds Tom's work: "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

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Valuing today
October 11, 1999

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