Ogilvie May Return as Chaplain

Posted April 30, 2003 at 6:22pm

Senators on both sides of the aisle this week said they would be delighted if recently retired Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie chooses to return to his post on Capitol Hill.

Several sources confirmed last week that the ongoing search for a replacement for Ogilvie was put on hold after Ogilvie’s wife, Mary Jane, passed away April 1, and Ogilvie is considering the option of coming back to his old job.

“I hope he does come back,” said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a close friend of Ogilvie’s.

“I don’t know which way he’s leaning,” continued Brownback, who said he recently tried to call Ogilvie but “his voicemail was full.”

After serving for eight years as the Senate’s “watchful shepherd,” in the words of one Senator, Ogilvie retired from the job March 15 to return to California and care for his ailing wife, who had suffered for some time from an acute respiratory illness.

“I thought I would go back and forth as frequently as I could and stay as long as I could, but I realized this was not adequate. For eight years, I have asked the Senators to put God first, family second, the Senate third and ambition fourth,” Ogilvie, 72, explained last month in an interview with Decision magazine. “It was time for me to live my message.”

Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), one of five Senate lawmakers sitting on the Chaplain search committee, said she was “very enthusiastic” about the prospect of Ogilvie returning to the Hill.

Mikulski said there are also a number of good candidates up for the job if Ogilvie opts to forge a new path, but she noted that Ogilvie has a special connection with the Senate.

“He’s been very special to the Senate, and the Senate family, the spouses,” Mikulski said.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), possibly Ogilvie’s closest ally in the Senate, said he’s not sure returning to the chamber is “in [Ogilvie’s] best interest,” saying his friend is still going through a mourning stage and may want to take on a new venture.

But Lott indicated the Senate would definitely welcome Ogilvie back, saying the search committee has put a temporary halt to their work while Ogilvie considers his next step. “Everything’s sort of on hold,” he said.

“He would definitely be able to come back,” Lott said.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he has not spoken with the search committee in some time about their plans, indicating he still thought they might come up with a nominee other than Ogilvie. Frist last spoke to the retired Chaplain at his wife’s funeral last month.

David Corn, an employee in the Senate Chaplain’s office and chief of staff to Ogilvie before his retirement, declined to comment on the matter.

He said only that Sens. Frist and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who is heading up the Chaplain search committee, would announce the next Chaplain’s name when a decision has been reached.

In his interview with Decision magazine, an entity of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Ogilvie described some of the more remarkable moments of his eight-year career on Capitol Hill and explained his philosophy on the role of religion in politics.

He also described his own daily ritual, of praying for 20 Senators each day during his 6 a.m. walk around the Capitol, which is near his Capitol Hill condominium.

“I cover all 100 Senators in a week. Often God puts on my mind and heart people who have needs or concerns,” Ogilvie told the magazine. “Then, during the day, I often have an opportunity to talk with those people.”

Ogilvie was often noted for his proliferation of Bible studies. He held five sessions each week — for the Senators, the Senators’ spouses, their chiefs of staff and two Bible studies for other Senate staff.

Since his exit from the Hill, Ogilvie — a renowned speaker and the author of more than 40 books — has continued to be in high demand.

Last Sunday, he delivered a sermon at the 61st annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan — a Scottish event held at the National Cathedral.

On June 15, he is scheduled to speak at the Ocean City tabernacle in Ocean City, N.J., and in late June he is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Christian Life Conference in Montreat, N.C.

In November, he will receive a Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers association.