I have been visiting the Vermont State House in Montpelier this past week. It’s a great place to meet interesting people! Every day brings new people. Wednesday, February 15, for example, featured the annual reception in the State House cafeteria by UVM Extension. There were many people there whom I knew from my career at Yankee Farm Credit, and lots of good food.
In this post, however, I want to tell you about someone else I met at the State House that day: Pastor Pete. This story is both personal and related to a theme of this blog – government and citizenship.
Peter Fiske – Pastor Pete – is the founder and president of The Church at Prison, Inc. which is active in prison ministry in Vermont. He founded The Church at Prison in the 1990s (more info). I did not know him before we met in the State House cafeteria.
This story is personal because my mother, Lois Putnam, was active in prison ministry in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton. She had retired from prison ministry work by the time Pastor Pete became involved, but he knew of her pioneering work and he had visited her at her home on the farm in Cambridge before she died in 1999.
This story is related to the theme of government and citizenship because society needs citizens like my mother and Pastor Pete, and organizations like The Church at Prison. Government alone is not enough to solve all our problems.
I think of public life as consisting of three sectors:
- For-profit enterprises
- Not-for-profit entities
I spent my career in the for-profit sector. Now that I have retired from that career, my goal is to learn more about government. But clearly we also need the not-for-profit sector. Even government and the for-profit sector together are not enough to solve all our problems and provide satisfactory and fulfilling lives for everyone.
As we think about ways to improve our society, we need to think about all three of those sectors, the proper role of each, and proper relationships between them. Some degree of cooperation is desirable. For example, The Church at Prison obviously must work with government because it is government that is responsible for the operation of the justice system including prisons. On the other hand, some degree of separation is desirable, too. Each of the three sectors has an essential role in society, and there are issues when we confuse and conflate those roles.
There is plenty of room for more thought on that matter. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. For this post, my intent is just to share my pleasure at unexpectedly meeting Pastor Pete, whom I did not know before, and discovering so many connections.