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From lawmaker to lobbyist, Joe Ortwerth retiring from public life in Missouri

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A former lawmaker-turned-county executive-turned-head of a Christian advocacy group has announced his retirement from public life.

Joe Ortwerth is stepping down as executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, a group he has led for the last 12 years. He instead will be working with a Christian ministry that serves orphan children in Uganda.

“It has been an honor to advocate for pro-life and pro-family laws and policies in our State Capitol in Jefferson City,” Ortwerth said in a statement. “It has been my lifelong passion to fight for the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the principles of religious freedom. But after more than 45 years of service in public office and Christian advocacy, I will be retiring from public life here in Missouri. God has given me a joyous new calling to advance His Kingdom.”

Politically involved from a young age, Orthweth has spent decades working in Jefferson City politics in various capacities.

He worked on campaigns as a youngster, assisting local Democrats before shifting to the Republican Party in his later teen years, Orthweth previously told The Missouri Times. He was first elected to the state House in 1982, being sworn in the following year at just 25 years old. He served as a Republican state representative until 1994 before leaving to become the St. Charles County Executive in 1995, a post he held until 2006. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2000, but he lost in the Republican primary to then-State Treasurer Wendell Bailey.

Starting in 2007, he has served as the executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council in O’Fallon, a faith-based organization that lobbies on right to life and sanctity of life issues while also arguing for traditional marriage and religious freedom.

Familiar Face: Ortwerth reflects on his long history in the Capitol

“Thanks to the valiant efforts of dedicated lawmakers, Missouri has some of the strongest pro-life and religious liberty laws in the country,” he said. “The Missouri Family Policy Council played the leading role in the passage of important laws and constitutional amendments that promoted the right to life and freedom of religion. We also played a leading role in blocking dangerous legislation that would undermine our free exercise of our Christian beliefs.”

Now the advocacy group will be undergoing a transition. Missouri’s Family Policy Council, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, will cease operations this summer and be replaced by the Family Policy Alliance of Missouri, a new 501(c)4 organization.

Ortwerth will also be taking on a new role. Along with Wendy, his wife, he will be heading to East Africa to work with a Christian ministry.

Read Ortwerth’s full letter below:

“Over the last twelve years it has been my privilege to serve as Executive Director of the Missouri Family Policy Council. In that capacity, it has been an honor to advocate for pro-life and pro-family laws and policies in our State Capitol in Jefferson City.

It has been my lifelong passion to fight for the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the principles of religious freedom. But after more than 45 years of service in public office and Christian advocacy, I will be retiring from public life here in Missouri. God has given me a joyous new calling to advance His Kingdom.

My wife Wendy and I have an exciting new assignment in this season of our marriage and family life. We are headed to the mission field in East Africa. We will will be working with a Christian ministry that serves orphan children in Uganda. The purpose of this ministry is to raise these orphan children to be the future Christian leaders of their nation, and we will have the opportunity to work with them to discover their unique God-given destiny.

At the same time, the Missouri Family Policy Council will be undergoing a transition over the next year. Missouri’s Family Policy Council was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. That corporation will cease operations this summer, and will be replaced by a new 501(c)4 organization to be called the Family Policy Alliance of Missouri. The new organization will continue to be an advocate for pro-life and pro-family values, and will retain its association with Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The Missouri Family Policy Council has had a major impact on the direction Missouri state government has taken over the last decade. Thanks to the valiant efforts of dedicated lawmakers, Missouri has some of the strongest pro-life and religious liberty laws in the country. The Missouri Family Policy Council played the leading role in the passage of important laws and constitutional amendments that promoted the right to life and freedom of religion. We also played a leading role in blocking dangerous legislation that would undermine our free exercise of our Christian beliefs.

I want you to know how deeply grateful I am for the support offered by so Missourians in assistance to our efforts. Thank you for the times you contacted your state senators and representatives to urge them to vote for pro-life and pro-family legislation. Thank you for your prayers for lawmakers during each year’s legislative session, that they would make decisions that honored God and respected our Christian convictions. Thank you for any financial support you were able to extend to support our ministry efforts to be of prayerful encouragement to our state elected officials.

May God bless you for your sincere devotion over all these years to promoting righteousness and Biblical principles in our state and nation. I will be eternally grateful for all you did to help the Missouri Family Policy Council to be a voice for Truth for Missouri families. I that pray you and your family are richly blessed in every way in the months and years ahead.

Wendy and I will be serving in Uganda with an incredible ministry called Watoto Child Care. We will be working with the orphan children on Christian discipleship, leadership training, and personal mentoring programs. The children at Watoto grow up with a profound and meaningful commitment to their Christian faith, and they proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with fervent and sincere hearts. Despite their experience as orphans, they are the most joyful people we have ever met. They are most fortunate to live in what is truly a God-fearing nation.

Should you wish to learn more about the life-changing work of Watoto Child Care, or to be a partner in our missions work, you can visit our ministry webpage at this link: www.givesendgo.com/watotouganda

Farewell and God’s blessings,

Joe Ortwerth”