Arkansas 3rd

Robb Ryerse

For U.S. Congress

My faith drives me in everything I do. It is why I believe in helping those less fortunate, those who may not have the same advantages as others. I’ve traveled the country for my faith but more than a decade ago my family and I decided to settle in Arkansas’s 3rd congressional district, or, as I like to call it: “America’s best kept secret.” As the birthplace of Sam Walton, I realized just how much a community could accomplish with a dream, hard work and innovation by their side. That’s why I want to create opportunities and support hard work by providing the tools needed to revitalize Northwest Arkansas to be a place where small businesses thrive -- the heartbeat of American industry.

"I believe in helping those less fortunate, those who may not have the same advantages as others."

I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, the son of a school teacher and a pastor -- a calling that has stayed in my family for many generations. After a family relocation to Upstate New York, I graduated high school and then attended a small Bible college where I met my beloved wife, Vanessa. From there, I went to seminary to follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather and join the ministry.

After college, I spent 10 years pastoring churches in New York City, the suburbs of Boston, and Central Michigan. I witnessed people being shunned or turned away from churches because they had different views on issues or made different lifestyle choices than those in the church. This sense of judgment and superiority was simply not the kind of faith I was raised to revere. The God I love teaches an ever-widening breadth of love, kindness and compassion. I knew I had to do something. So my family and I decided to move to Arkansas, where we founded a new kind of church -- one that is attempting to more fully live out the teachings and example of Jesus.

It’s been twelve years since we threw open the doors of Vintage Fellowship. Since its inception, our goal has been clear: we welcome all people. LGBT and folks from all backgrounds, creeds and colors. Even skeptics are encouraged to join us. We recently joined a group called OPEN, which is an alliance of progressive-leaning churches that embrace our view of Christianity. We are committed to lending a hand to anyone who needs it including aiding the resettlement of refugees in our district, something our current congressmen tried to shut down.

We follow in the footsteps of Jesus, doing good works, and opening our arms to differences of opinions. Vintage Fellowship, at its core, is all about care - care for those less fortunate, care for our community, care for our neighbors, care for our family and care for our planet. I believe we have an obligation as citizens and as Christians to be good stewards of all that we’ve been given.

"Vintage Fellowship, at its core, is all about care - care for those less fortunate, care for our community, care for our neighbors, care for our family and care for our planet."

I embrace responsible, meaningful tax reform that provides relief for middle and lower income families by closing corporate loopholes and ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share. From the Gospel of Luke, we learn, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Each of us has something to give, and we should give generously to our fellow citizens.

I don’t just believe this principle -- I live it. In addition to my ministry, I hold down a full time job. That way I can provide for my family and free up more of our church's resources to help others in need.

I am a lifelong Republican -- with the subscription to National Review to prove it. I’m joining Brand New Congress because I believe my party has lost their way. The party of Eisenhower and Reagan would be unrecognizable to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Today’s Republican leadership has strayed far from their roots: Empowering people to live their lives freely and on their own terms, controlling costs and spending wisely, being good stewards of our national resources, lifting up our neighbors when they are in need -- and most importantly, having the integrity to be accountable for our actions. I don’t see these qualities in the Republican leadership of Congress today, and I want to change that.

"How can a kid from Arkansas have any chance to become the next Sam Walton with the deck stacked so high against them?"

Vanessa and I have been married for 20 years now. I couldn’t ask for a better friend and partner. She’s an ordained minister as well, and we co-pastor Vintage Fellowship. Apart from my ministry, our four amazing children are my world. My oldest is about to head off to college. Vanessa and I are nervously eyeing college tuition bills -- something we haven’t faced since we were in school. It’s easy to see why the cost of college keeps people up at night, and it’s disgraceful of today’s Congressional leaders to ignore the obstacles faced by working families. How can a kid from Arkansas have any chance to become the next Sam Walton with the deck stacked so high against them?

In these turbulent times, it pains me to see neighbor turn against neighbor. These are not mere disagreements over policy, we’ve begun to question the worth of our fellow man. Our nation is hurting right now; we desperately need to bridge our divide. I’ve served our Arkansas community for more than 12 years as a pastor, and now I’m answering the call to serve our district and our country by running for Congress to represent Arkansas’s 3rd. It’s time to heal, and I pray I can be of service.

 

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