The Power of a Summit Story: Dennis and Margaret Guth

Editor’s Note: What difference does Summit make? Why should you send a student? This week I’m posting alumni stories, originally printed in our monthly newsletter The Journal. These stories illustrate the difference Summit is making in the lives of it students, and the difference they’re making in their communities.

Online registration for our 2013 summer student conferences is now open, and you have until Sunday to take advantage of our $200 Early Bird Discount on tuition. Register here. And for more information about our summer student worldview conferences, click here.

Dennis and Margaret GuthDennis and Margaret Guth (Originally published February 2013)

On April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court reached a monumental decision: it upheld a lower court decision allowing same-sex marriage in the state. Without deliberation in the state capitol and with no opportunity for voters to have their say at the ballot box, Iowa became the third state to allow same-sex marriage.

Shortly thereafter, Dennis Guth, a grain and hog farmer and father of five in Klemme, Iowa, received a call from a frustrated and shocked neighbor: “We just can’t do nothing,” the neighbor told him. Now almost four years later, Dennis finds himself holding a position he had never envisioned or aspired to: he’s a state senator just beginning his first term in office.

Dennis’s road to the Iowa Senate actually began thirteen years ago in Colorado Springs at Summit’s Adult Conference. After hearing about Summit on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast, Dennis and his wife, Margaret, signed up for the conference, which turned out to change their lives and the lives of their family. “We didn’t even know the word worldview until we became acquainted with Summit,” Margaret said recently. “The conference was great. It gave me confidence in realizing that Christianity is right on; we don’t have to go out there and mumble our way through answers.”

Since attending their first conference in 2000, the Guths made efforts to take advantage of every weekend worldview event Summit sponsored. Four of their five children have attended summer Student Conferences, and their youngest is coming this summer. Margaret said an understanding of worldview and culture has changed the intellectual dynamic of the whole family. “It’s helped our kids think outside the box to help consider and analyze what’s coming to them through all the various media,” she said. “Somehow here in our culture we have just separated everything, but everything we do affects everything else; what we do in private affects the public, and what we do in public affects our private lives.”

Their understanding of worldview has also pushed the Guths to do more reading and researching, especially of contemporary cultural issues. “Those who are informed are going to be the mouths for society,” Margaret said. So when the Iowa Supreme Court made its decision in 2009, Dennis began researching the issue and became involved in grassroots activism. Finally, a group of fellow homeschool fathers he had been mobilizing with urged him to run for public office.

Margaret said she’s not sure Dennis would have considered running had it not been for what they learned in their years of involvement with Summit. “We became a little bit more comfortable being movers and shakers in small ways,” she said. “It pushed him in a quiet way to become active and not just passively sit. It’s been a tough road and has really put him out of his comfort zone. But if we don’t do something, who will?”

Dennis echoed his wife’s sentiment. “I decided it was wrong to do nothing, and I jumped in to see what God might do through me,” he said. “It has been quite an adventure, and I’m glad I stepped out in faith.”

Even though Dennis finds himself in the minority party in the Iowa Senate, he’s quietly working to build coalitions around biblical ideas, such as crafting solid pro-life legislation. And even though it may be a long road trying to turn the tide of some major cultural trends, Margaret credits Summit for this family journey that began thirteen years ago.