Family Policy Alliance and Family Policy Foundation spent this Christmas Eve and Day both mourning and celebrating the extraordinary life of our president emeritus, Tom Minnery.
It is an objective statement to say that our organizations would not exist, nor would they be in a position for the incredible impact made each day, without Tom answering the call to serve in the role of first president of the newly independent CitizenLink, an organization spun out of Focus on the Family, where Tom had served for 26 years as a Senior Vice President of Government & Public Policy.
Even before this tenure at Focus on the Family, he had been a successful reporter at Gannett before the Lord led him to seminary and eventually to working at Christianity Today, where he caught the eye of, and for a time worked for, the late Rev. Billy Graham.
He was experienced and already serving the Lord in a powerful way when he accepted the challenge of leading our ministry as newly independent organizations to prepare for the decades to come. Tom didn’t need a new challenge, and he certainly didn’t need anything for his resume – and yet he answered the call.
His selfless commitment to serving the Lord by pouring in his life experience and steady leadership into a movement of state-led organizations known as Family Policy Councils, and the launch of the independent ministry that I now lead, created the opportunity for Christians everywhere to come together and participate in both the policy and politics of our great country with a unique voice. A voice that doesn’t tear down others or seek to divide but rather one that points to our True North, one that knows we must speak into, and heal our culture one person and one family at a time if we are to expect our politicians and the policies they write to cherish life, advance religious liberty, honor God and help families to thrive.
Tom could see around corners, writing Pornography, A Human Tragedy nearly a decade before Americans started using the Internet. We are now decades into learning just how destructive it is to human relationships, marriages and families. In 2001, he wrote Why You Can’t Stay Silent: A Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture to help Christians understand that desire we have in our hearts to speak truth to power while living out our faith at home and in the community.
God used Tom in a powerful way – from the time when Tom answered the call to follow the Lord away from a corporate news job in 1976 until this Christmas Eve, when he was called Home after a tragic ice-skating accident while visiting his children and grandchildren in New Mexico.
As our first president following our launch from Focus on the Family, Tom created a wonderful structure for Christians to work together in alliances as peers, to educate our elected officials to help them stick with their values in a world that makes that difficult, and to mobilize Christians in the culture to improve both our policies and politics to help families thrive. He created the Statesmen Academy for state legislators which now has graduates in thirty-three state capitols and two members who have gone on to serve in Congress.
Tom got to live his life to the full – with energy and enthusiasm until he left this earth. In addition to becoming our President Emeritus upon his retirement, he also served as a founding Board Member to Alliance Defending Freedom and even spent his time in retirement serving on the Board of the Center for Christian Virtue, the Family Policy Council in his home state of Ohio. In addition to this, he and his wife Deb spent their time in Ohio teaching and leading small groups in their local church community. Tom also answered Jesus’ call to visit the prisoner and would go to the local prison and teach the people living there of a way up and out of the life and decisions that brought them to incarceration in the first place.
A man after God’s heart for sure. And because of this, Family Policy Alliance, Family Policy Foundation and the 40 state organizations in the Family Policy Council Alliance are privileged to inherit the opportunities to serve created by Tom’s efforts and legacy. The national and state organizations, with over 300 employees combined and service to more than 40,000 churches and millions of Christian advocates, will continue Tom’s life work as we both mourn his loss and celebrate his joining our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in heaven.