By Caleb Steindel

We have arrived at a crucial point in our country’s history.

Our faith, family, and freedom based values are under attack, and as Christians in a secular society, we have a responsibility to fight for them. The good news is that we’ve undoubtedly witnessed some great strides and accomplishments in recent years. Achievements such as the Abortion Clinic Regulations law (2011) and the recent passage by the General Assembly of the Down Syndrome Protection Act are tremendous victories and causes for celebration. However, we still have a long way to go. The true fate of the future of America lies in the hands of those who will become the leaders of tomorrow: the young men and women of our great nation. 

Growing up with the Pennsylvania Family Institute

As a teenager growing up in the church, I found myself captivated by the political process of our nation. I saw the importance of God-fearing men and women involving themselves in government and becoming active in bringing our country back to the values it was founded upon. Christians have a choice. We can either sit by the sidelines and watch the nation divert into immorality without so much as raising a finger, or we can jump into the fray by involving ourselves in the political process. That is where Pennsylvania Family Institute comes in. 

One of the greatest blessings in my life has been the opportunity to attend the same church as many of the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI) staff. As I became aware of their mission and the work they do, I developed a deep desire to join alongside them, learning and serving however I can. The first opportunity for that came through what is still one of the most important, priceless experiences of my life: City on the Hill

I had known about City on the Hill (COTH) from a young age. Several of my friends attended and returned with inspiring testimonies and terrific experiences, yet even with my love of public speaking and politics in general, it still seemed intimidating. Jumping into the chair of a State Senator, debating genuine bills in front of peers on the Senate floor, and running for leadership positions seemed like activities that were way above my pay grade. But thanks to a generous scholarship that I was awarded by my home church, I was able to attend COTH and gain an experience which offered so much more than I could have asked for or even dreamed about. 

Entering the retreat, I expected somewhat of a tedious, boring week with strenuous preparation and difficult debates. But City on the Hill provides so much more than governmental process training. Truthfully, researching and debating bills is a mere fraction of the priceless opportunities that COTH offers. My peers and I experienced a week of college dorm life, toured the PA State Capitol, performed in a talent show, spent a day at an outdoor retreat in Lancaster, developed public speaking skills, and gained friendships that will last for years to come, all while gaining a deeper knowledge and understanding of the political and governmental process and debating bills on the senate floor. However, the greatest element of City on the Hill wasn’t the technical knowledge I gained or even the political skills that I developed. It was the opportunity to spend a week with young, like-minded, God-fearing men and women who are eager to see a revival of Christianity in the public sphere of America. City on the Hill is an opportunity that every high schooler should take advantage of. We have a responsibility to live our faith out loud while seeking to be agents of change for God’s glory, and Pennsylvania Family Institute is helping to provide that opportunity. 

City on the Hill is unique

You can attend numerous political retreats in order to further your political knowledge and experience, and there are plenty of retreats available that strengthen you in your faith. But City on the Hill is unique to any other. I have yet to discover one that combines the two so seamlessly and at the same time fosters unbreakable bonds of friendship and unity between young, like minded men and women. The amount of time and effort that PFI puts into the conservative, Christian youth movement is unparalleled. 

After attending COTH in 2017, I couldn’t wait to return. So after taking a year off, I once again returned in 2019 as a senior in high school. The experience was once again more than I could have hoped for, as I had the privilege of being elected President Pro Tempore for our mock Senate sessions, and I gained more vital knowledge and experiences that will serve me for years to come. As I transitioned to college, I wanted to continue working alongside the Pennsylvania Family Institute by serving in whatever capacity I can. In September of 2019, I was hired as an intern, where I’ve been working part-time ever since. The internship program at PFI is another terrific way that they invest in today’s youth. I’ve been able to make connections and learn from brilliant men and women about politics in Pennsylvania, all the while honing my strengths and developing new skills. Following COTH, it was the next step that I knew I wanted to take, and just like COTH, it’s been a priceless experience. 

PFI is truly an organization like no other. From representing your voices in the public arena to their critical investments in the youth of today, their work is vital for the future of the Commonwealth. When you support PFI, you’re supporting more than just a public policy organization, and you’re doing more than just investing in the political process.  You’re supporting the future of this country. You’re providing opportunities for young men and women to grow in numerous different ways, and you’re supporting the next generation of leaders fighting for faith, family, and freedom based values on the front lines.

A donation to PFI is a donation that will reap rewards for years to come.

Caleb Steindel is an intern with the Pennsylvania Family Institute and a two-time City on the Hill student. In 2019, Caleb was elected City on the Hill President Pro-Tempore, the highest position elected by the students.