In fact, Loeffler is hardly mentioned in the book. Instead, it’s full of tales about Warnock’s upbringing in a public housing project with 11 siblings and two doting parents, and the go-getter gumption it took to rise to one of the nation’s most important pulpits.
He documents his early dreams of becoming a preacher – and playing pranks on an unsuspecting brother – along with his growing passion for influencing public policy as he took pastoral jobs in New York, Baltimore and finally the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Of the latter, he outlines how he was initially rejected before a surprising turnabout helped him land the coveted job – and his desire to ensure that Ebenezer continue to serve as “a real church, a resilient church, not a monument.”
That job hasn’t been without tension, such as when Warnock and then-Attorney General Thurbert Baker – a prominent Ebenezer member – took opposing sides in a high-profile criminal justice case involving a Georgia teenager.
As he grew more forceful advocating for voting rights, Medicaid expansion and criminal justice changes, local Democrats took notice. Several friends and allies urged Warnock to seek public office, an idea that the pastor wrestled with for most of the last decade.
When he asked civil rights hero John Lewis, an Ebenezer congregant, to mentor him, Warnock was surprised by the then-congressman’s response: “Oh, you don’t need it.”
“His words didn’t feel dismissive; that was not his way,” Warnock wrote. “He just seemed to be saying there was no magic complicated formula that needed studying. That in his line of work you learn by doing, by showing up, by putting your body in the game.”
Warnock, of course, would do just that after deciding against running for U.S. Senate in 2014 and 2016. After Johnny Isakson decided to retire early, Warnock prayed, consulted with advisers, met with parishioners and prayed some more.
“Finally, I came to realize there may never be a more perfect moment, that life was full of unexpected dips and curves, but that so many people, including me, had put in years of work for this opportunity.”
There’s little about campaign controversies or backroom strategies in the final months of the epic election, which culminated in Democratic victories that flipped control of the chamber. An altercation with his ex-wife that drew headlines isn’t mentioned.
Warnock instead sticks to broader themes. He goes into detail about policy positions on major debates that will help define his reelection bid – and his outlook at a time of great uncertainty about the nation’s future.
“We are the latest generation that gets to decide whether we’re going to give in to bigotry or fear or push closer to our democratic ideals,” Warnock wrote.
“I choose hope. I choose inclusivity. I choose equal protection under the law. I choose truth and justice. I choose the beloved community.”