PROBLEMS OF PASTORING THE PRESIDENT

Pastoring the president is a special challenge for any minister - but even more so when there is disagreement on major policy. The Most Rev. Edmond Browning, who sometimes prays with George Bush on the telephone, concedes he is outspoken on important issues where he differs with the president, such as the Persian Gulf war. Mr. Browning told The Witness, an Episcopalian magazine:"In one conversation [with Mr. Bush] we noted that we have some different ideas, some different visions of our national life and our responsibilities in this global village. We discussed the fact that this is not likely to change. And we accepted that. Christian life isn't about agreement or disagreement. It is about being faithful, struggling to discern." Browning has known Bush for six years. Besides praying together on the phone, they exchange letters and meet in person about once a year. Secretary of State James Baker III often asks the bishop to fax him the prayers they have together so he can share them with his own prayer group. But there can be difficult moments: On the eve of the Gulf war, Browning asked Bush if he wanted to pray. Bush said he had no time. Only later did Browning learn that Bush had called in the Rev. Billy Graham to bless the war effort that Browning opposed.

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