Conger Resigns from Jackson City Council

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Scott Conger

Scott Conger will formally announce his resignation of his District 5 seat at the end of the Nov. 7 meeting, and his replacement is expected to be appointed and sworn in at the Dec. 2 meeting.

“It’s not good for a nine-member council to end up an even number; it’s asking for trouble,” Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist said. “That’s why we feel like we need to be expeditious in accepting his resignation, if that’s what he requests, and selecting a new council member at that (December) meeting.”

To be eligible to run for Conger’s seat, you must be at least 18 years old, live in District 5 and be an eligible voter.

Jerry Gist’s ideal council member

When the council looks at the résumés for the next member, there will be key criteria they will look at — like any other job application.

“You’ve got to like people; you have to have a servant’s heart,” Gist said. “Meaning, your first priority is to help people. It doesn’t make any difference what their income level is — they can be black, white, rich, poor — but my job is to serve all the people of my district and make the best decisions I can for their benefit, including what the Bible refers to as ‘the least of these.’

“Sometimes those people are left out; they don’t call you all the time; they may not have a phone. (You’ve got) to be receptive to those ones in your district that struggle and are looking for a little encouragement and compassion.”

Apparently the Mayor has “thief’s heart”, as if we didn’t already know.  And as most politicians tend to forget, Gist is misquoting the bible when he  states “the least of these” as if the least of these is all that he considers. We have tried to explain this within the house of the city that it is not the responsibility of government to care for the poor but the individuals of this world. It is the responsibility of the individual to provide for those that need aid, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17). Of course that, in the eyes of the Mayor, is non productive and he believes he is the purveyor of all and provides or supplies a particular thing which might be a hot topic of the day.

The Mayor has always been confused on this verse and in his attempt to use this description of the last judgment and the judgment to come, in which every man shall be sentenced to a state of everlasting happiness, or misery as to include bodies of government. Christ shall come, not only in the glory of his Father, but in his own glory, as Mediator. The wicked and godly here dwell together, in the same cities, churches, families, and are not always to be known the one from the other; such are the weaknesses of saints, such the hypocrisies of sinners; and death takes both: but in that day they will be parted for ever by the Judgement of God. Christ is the great Shepherd; he will distinguish between those that are his, and those that are not. We are talking about individual souls, not bodies of government. We cannot know how Christ will view the actions of men or women that live their lives in government and attempt to providing for poor as absolution for the rest of us.

We are sure his thoughts, if expanded, he might say “Blessed are the poor in spirit for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (verse 3). I think the word “poor” here is one that seems to speak of abject poverty. The word, as a number of scholars have pointed out, seems to almost indicate a cringing or a stooping down. It is a sort of beggarly kind of poverty. Now, there are lots of people who consider themselves poor in this world who wouldn’t qualify for this kind of poor. There are those who, by government standards, have an income that is lower than a certain amount, but I would say a very high percentage of those people who qualify as poor probably have televisions, cell phones and transportation and a number of other things that would not exactly, in our minds, be in the category of the trappings of the poor. This, of course, has been brutalized by the social progressives such as Conger and Gist and mis-defined. The poverty Matthew is talking about is abject poverty, and it is poverty in spirit. Now I understand that Luke’s Gospel says “poor” and leaves it at that. Let’s stay with the terms Matthew uses, and that is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

“Remove falsehood and lies far from me. Do not give me poverty or riches. Feed me with my allotted bread lest I become satisfied and act deceptively and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I become poor and steal and harm in the name of my God.”

This text tells us that both poverty and wealth have their own Achilles heels. They have their own flaws, their own temptations, their own problems, so that the rich, as Paul warns in 1 Timothy 6, must be warned not to place their trust in the uncertainty of riches. But the poor need to be careful that they do not set aside God’s standards of righteousness and justice to steal and try to solve their poverty problems in a wrong way. You cannot say that it is just wealth or just poverty.

So if Christianity in government is your objective then you are seeking the wrong venue and so were Conger and Gist for their contributions to easing the needs of the poor with their own money might be considered pathetic is the eyes of the Lord.

We do not mean to demean the contributions of confused individuals. Those with wealth tend to make poor decisions as well.

There was a movie released in 1947 called “The Bishop’s Wife”. Some of you may have seen it. It is one of our Christmas favorites because it is the story of an Episcopal Bishop, Henry Brougham, who has been working for months on the plans for an elaborate new cathedral which he hopes will be paid for primarily by a wealthy, stubborn widow. During this obsession he is losing sight of his family and of why he became a man of God in the first place.

So enters Dudley, an angel sent to help him. Dudley does help everyone he meets, but not necessarily in the way they would have preferred. With the exception of Henry, everyone loves him, but Henry begins to believe that Dudley is there to replace him, both at work and in his family’s affections, as Christmas approaches.

In the end Henry is reconverted and delivers this from the pulpit:

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts. But especially with gifts.

You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe.

We forget nobody, adult or child.

All the stockings are filled… all that is, except one.

And we have even forgotten to hang it up.

The stocking for the child born in a manger.

It’s his birthday we are celebrating. Don’t ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most… and then let each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.

This is to say that each man or woman that serves in government must understand the real government’s position and that through its service can not save the souls of man. But it is the individual compassion of man from which souls are saved.

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