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April 22, 2022

Kay Coles James Speaks at TruThursday Lecture Series

By Leah Smith, Princeton ’22

During Black History Month, Christian Union Nova’s TruThursday Leadership Lecture Series hosted prominent Black Christian professionals via Zoom. Princeton students gathered in person and online for TruThursday, which seeks to “exemplify the gospel while celebrating African, African-American and Caribbean culture.” One of the highlights of the series was a lecture from Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth Kay Coles James. 


Kay JamesKay Coles James (Commonwealth of Virginia website)Secretary James told the students a little of everything about her life, from how she became a Christian via a Billy Graham campaign television broadcast, to her forty-year career in government and public policy, to the joys of being a wife and a mother for almost fifty years. She stressed the importance of making room for the Holy Spirit, especially as a politician who makes judgements on policies that are designed to help the underserved.

“I have discerned over many, many years, that as I walked in the Spirit, there were a couple things I needed to prioritize,” James said. “First of all, I needed to be in God’s presence and available for the Spirit to speak, which means that it was not enough to just do a quick devotional every day, but [I needed to] marinate in God’s word. [I’ve learned] to humble myself and bring myself before the Spirit and quiet myself to listen. James also noted the importance of having Christian friends in her life who can “hold me accountable, speak to me, and [correct] me.”

Serving as the president of The Heritage Foundation, American’s prominent conservative think-tank, from 2018-2021, James experienced many situations where her beliefs or judgements on policy did not line up specifically with one group or party, or make sense to some of her colleagues, but instead lined up with where she believed Christ was leading her.

“Sometimes the gospel itself is controversial,” she said. “So, if we ever get to the point that we back away from talking about a subject matter because it’s controversial, we won’t be sharing our faith for very long.”

The Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth talked about the unity of the Church in the face of ever-changing cultural values, language, and the work of the enemy constantly trying to derail the importance of Christ in societal contexts.

“I truly believe that if God’s people made the decision that they were going to stand on truth and stand on his Word and not care about politics and party, we would see much more healing in this country. And I believe that we have a responsibility as God’s people to demonstrate to the world what that looks like,” she said.

“I [like to] remind people that when Jesus comes back, he’s not coming back flying in on Air Force One as a Democrat or Republican,” she said.

Kutorkor Kotey ’24, a TruThursday team leader from Newark, New Jersey, said James made many excellent points during her lecture and question and answer session.

“Her central point of total reliance on God was apparent as she explained her career trajectory. I could see that Mrs. James made all career choices in response to God’s instructions. Wherever the Lord told her to go, that is where she went: complete obedience,” Kotey said.

James’ steadfastness in spending time seeking the Lord in the midst of busyness also impacted Kotey in a profound way.

“This encouraged me to stop making excuses and do better. Like many students, I am often slammed with papers and exams, and unfortunately, I get into the zone where the flesh starts creating excuses to spend less time with God,” she said. “I must reach a point where if I have no time to spend with God, I must then make the time. It’s no longer okay to (just) know that God must be first, but I must put this mindset to practice (Matthew 7:24).”

In the end, Kay C. James’s message to CU Nova served as an example of what it looks like to put God first in a prominent position of public service. In line with Princeton’s informal motto, “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity,” may many students be inspired by James to live for God as they to seek to change the world through their many endeavors.

RELATED: Want to go deeper in your faith? Click here to receive a free download of Christian Union’s "Seeking God Lifestyle” Bible Course Manual.

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