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The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Congressman
Rep. Mike Sodrel


Numerous sources identify the church that Rep. Sodrel belonged to when he began serving as a Congressman as the Southeast Christian Church. The Southeast Christian Church is a Stone-Campbellite megachurch which is apparently part of the "Christian Churches and Churches of Christ" religious body. This group is known as the "middle" or "moderate" group among the three major Stone-Campbell religious bodies. (The Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement is a branch of Protestant Christianity which began in the United States in 1832.)

We have a report that Rep. Mike Sodrel is now a member of the Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, Indiana, where he attends services every Sunday.

Also, Rep. Mike Sodrel appeared at the Graceland Baptist Church at an event honoring a soldier returning from the war in Iraq.

From: Congress Merge Online (http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/cgi-bin/newmemberbio.cgi?member=IN09&site=congressmerge): "Information on Representative Mike Sodrel of Congressional District number 9 of Indiana... Faith: Southeast Christian Church." National Republican Congressional Committee (http://nrcc.org/nrcc_contents/tools/spotlights/sodrel.shtml, viewed 26 May 2005): "Sodrel and his wife Marquita (Keta) have been married for 36 years and have two children and six grandchildren. They are members of Southeast Christian Church."

The Southeast Christian Church is located at 920 Blankenbaker Parkway, Louisville, Kentucky (just across the southern Indiana border, near New Albany, Indiana).

As is typical of churches within the "Christian Churches/Churches of Christ" religious body, the Southeast Christian Church appears fairly independent. It does not overtly identify its denominational affiliation, and in fact, has loose denominational ties relative to congregations of most non-Stone-Campbellite denominations. Of the three major contemporary Stone-Campbell religious bodies, it seems apparent based on the statement of beliefs posted on the church's website as well as other information that the Southeast Christian Church is part of the "Christian Churches/Churches of Christ" (CC/CC) group, although in keeping with tradition longstanding anti-denominational beliefs, its website does not state this overtly.

From: "Meet the Freshmen" page on "National Republican Congressional Committee" website (http://www.nrcc.org/nrcc_contents/freshmen/; viewed 27 October 2005):

Representative Mike Sodrel in Indiana's Ninth District. Sodrel bested incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Baron Hill in a hard-fought race. A native of New Albany, Sodrel is a U.S. Army National Guard veteran and is a member of the American Legion. He is the owner of Sodrel Truck Lines and began Sodrel Logistics in 2000, creating more than 500 jobs in the process. He is a past chairman of the Southern Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Sodrel and his wife Marquita (Keta) have been married for 36 years and have two children and six grandchildren. They are members of Southeast Christian Church.
From: ChristiaNet (Number 3, June 2003) - the "Monthly Global News and Information of the Christian - Churches of Christ - Disciples of Christ family of churches - noted (http://worldconv.home.comcast.net/christianet/christianet3.htm):
This Christian Church/Churches of Christ convention is meeting this year in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 8-11 with the theme 'Imagine'. Bob Russell, Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky is president.

The statement of beliefs on the Southeast Christian Church website (http://www.southeastchristian.org/com_statementoffaith.cfm) is essentially identical to that found on the websites of the Parkway Christian Church (Surprise, Arizona), the First Christian Church of Clearwater (Florida), the Williamstown Christian Church (Kentucky), the Frederick Church of Christ (Maryland), the Christian Church at Cogan Station (Pennsylvania). Most of these churches seem to make a point of obscuring their affiliation, but the Cogan Station church openly observes (http://coganstationchurch.org/affiliation.html) that it "is identified with a fellowship known as Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, historically referred to as the 'Restoration Movement' led in its earliest American expressions by Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott among others... There over 5,500 churches worldwide associate with our fellowship. There are many Christian Colleges, schools, mission's organization, publishing companies, and support agencies associated with our churches." The website of the Frederick Church of Christ, however, links to the "churches of Christ" official website (http://church-of-christ.org/). Also, from http://www.gospelcenterchurch.org/christianchurch.html:

During this Century, Independent Christian Churches broke away from the Liberal trend of the 'Disciples of Christ' branch, and each mostly has its own website. These are some of the fastest growing churches in the United States today, with such dynamic megachurches as SOUTHEAST CHRISTIAN CHURCH in Louisville, Ky with nearly 20,000 members! They have the same general doctrinal beliefs as Disciples of Christ and other Christian Churches, but have a dynamic 'SEEKER-FRIENDLY approach that is attracting multitudes to their churches.
From: "151st Infantry Battalion: Caring for our Own Hometown Heroes" page on official Graceland Baptist Church website (http://www.gracelandbaptist.org/templates/cusgracelandbc/Details.asp?id=26992&PID=166039; viewed 27 October 2005):
During the Summer of 2004, the 151st Infantry Battalion of the Indiana National Guard, based in New Albany, was called to active duty status, and deployed to serve in Afghanistan under 'Operation Enduring Freedom'. This unit consists of over 700 men and women, with over 350 from the immediate Southern Indiana area. All members were deployed by late August and during this mission, they not only provided training and support for the Afghanistan National Army, but also an enormous amount of humanitarian aid to the citizens and country of Afghanistan.

The members and attendees of Graceland over the past 11 months have provided tremendous support to the men of the 1-151! The following are just some of the contributions made...

On Sunday, October 10, Graceland was honored with a commendation from the Commander of the 151st...

While home on leave, on Sunday, February 6th, 2005, LTC Grube visited Graceland Baptist Church, and spoke briefly in both morning services. He was welcomed by Mayor James Garner of New Albany, and Congressman Mike Sodrel of the 9th Congressional District, IN. LTC Grube spoke to those attending about how much the contributions of care package items for the soldiers have meant to the men serving with the 151st. He also brought updates on the on-going efforts of the 151st to provide humanitarian aid and comfort to the refugees and citizens of Afghanistan. He commended the body at Graceland for their valuable contributions of blankets, Christmas boxes, cash donations and other items for the refugees.

From: Marcus Wohlsen, "Indiana church honors flag, soldiers 'God & Country' draws big crowd", published in The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 27 June 2005 (http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050627/NEWS02/506270400/-1/SCENE2004; viewed 27 October 2005):
For Marine Cpl. Jeremy Kelley, 29, serving God goes hand in hand with serving in the military.

Back from six months in southern Iraq, Kelley, a 25-year member of New Albany's Graceland Baptist Church, marched the Marine Corps flag down the center aisle at yesterday's "God & Country Sunday" service, the church's annual red-white-and-blue salute to members of the military serving overseas.

Combat, Kelley said, has fortified his Christianity.

"Your faith is actually strengthened by that experience by your reliance on God and His protection," he said.

Several local officials, including U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-9th District, turned out for the service, which paid special tribute to the 1st Battalion of the 151st Infantry Regiment, an Indiana National Guard unit based in New Albany...

Worshippers crammed Graceland Baptist's 2,000-seat sanctuary for the multimedia extravaganza...

New Albany Mayor James Garner led the congregation in an opening prayer. Then members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines took the American flag to the front of the church.

Though several members of the military on active duty were present for the service, the flag took center stage.

Sodrel, wearing an American-flag tie, told the congregation that the House passed a constitutional amendment last week that would ban the desecration of the flag. He received a standing ovation.

"It's not a demonstration of liberty to desecrate our flag," Sodrel said. "It's an attack on liberty."

Sodrel himself served in the 151st from 1968 to 1973.

Though only a few members of Graceland Baptist serve in the 151st, the church has become deeply involved in supporting the unit's soldiers and their families, church spokeswoman Jan Whittenberg said.

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Webpage created 26 May 2005. Last modified 28 October 2005.
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