His bid put the church in an awkward spotlight. Parishioners say they’re both proud of the rising political star who now strides the pulpit where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached but unnerved the congregation had become the go-to target of Walker and his GOP allies.
The relief over Warnock’s victory was palpable on Sunday, when Warnock was introduced on towering flat-screens with a montage of TV clips trumpeting his victory. Congregants bounded to their feet, showering Warnock with a sustained standing ovation.
Like most Sundays, the pews were packed – a mix of regular churchgoers and a large group of tourists, including a contingent from a New York synagogue that occupied several rows near the back of the chapel.
In a sermon that quoted both Tennyson and Tupac, Warnock drew a line between the odyssey of the Israelites through the desert after their escape from Egypt and modern-day trials that forge both strength and faith. Warnock need not remind his flock of his own political journey.
“I’ll tell you, the last three years have been tough. I know I made it look like fun. And in some ways, it was,” he said. “But it’s something to walk by faith and not by sight. I didn’t know what God would do. But I knew I had an assignment.”
As cheers echoed through the chapel, Warnock said he knew “from experience that God will show up.”
“I knew that God needed a voice to speak on behalf of the least of these, that God wanted to elevate a voice to speak on behalf of justice, and on behalf of kindness and on behalf of mercy – and I decided if the Lord needs somebody, here am I. Send me.”