A United Methodist pastor and former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, says he wants to put “faith over fear” in his run for the U.S. Senate.
“My faith is key to this,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Senate on Oct. 5. “I’m very concerned about where the nation is right now, and our nation is embroiled in these divisions.
“Obviously, Matthew 12:25 tells us a house divided against itself cannot stand and I think the greatest threat to our country is the divisions,” said Holland, 52. “These divisions are rooted in fear, and I think we need to put faith over fear. I think divisions are rooted in lies and we need to speak the truth. We’re divided in extremism. There’s all this extremism going on in our country and we need leadership – courageous, ethical leadership – that’s going to stand up and lead instead of just watching.”
Holland was ordained as an elder in the former Kansas East Conference in 1999. He served as pastor at Elwood United Community Church-Wathena UMC from 1996-1999, and from 1999-2018 was pastor of Kansas City Trinity UMC. He is currently on personal leave.
He served as mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, for one term from 2013-2017, following six years on the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.
A third-generation pastor, Holland is the founder and executive director of Mainstream UMC, which is lobbying the denomination for changes in its Book of Discipline to allow LGBTQ pastors and allow United Methodist clergy to perform same-gender weddings.
“I believe in sticking up for those who have been discriminated against,” he said. “My heart is in it for people, and my heart as a pastor and community leader … is for people and community leadership and bringing people together. I think we need that right now. I think we need folks who have a heart for leadership and not just a heart for re-election.
“We have an opportunity be more inclusive and express God’s grace every more fully, and that’s what the work of Mainstream UMC is about,” Holland continued. “The politics in the church have been a big part of the struggle, because the church is reflecting the same partisan divide that the rest of the country is.”
One of two candidates that have announced campaigns in the Democratic Party, Holland would face U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran in an election in November 2022.
Holland criticized Moran for voting against an infrastructure bill that Moran helped negotiate “because of politics.”
“We need folks who have the courage to stand up to their own party leaders on behalf of Kansas,” he said.
Holland said he offers “a positive, faith-based message of faith above fear, truth above lies and cooperation over extremism.”
He said he has been discerning his next steps in public service for several years, began considering a Senate run in February and went into further exploration in early August.
“It’s the right step right now for where our country is and where I feel like I’m called to be,” he said.