Parma and Madison Councilmen Are Ambassadors For Truth
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This philosophy, espoused by British Statesman Edmund Burke in the 18th century, is what spurs two Christian councilmen in Northeast Ohio to stay active in public office. They desire to make a difference.
by Cindy Berry
John Stover, majority leader for Parma City Council and councilman for Ward 7 in Cuyahoga County, is in his 12th year of office. Vince LeParo, councilman for Madison in Lake County, is serving his third year in office. Both men are Christians, committed to putting their faith into action.
||John Stover, Parma Councilmen
"As citizens, we have rights but we also have an obligation," explains Stover, who believes every Christian needs to be involved in his or her community. He views himself as "a servant of the people" and his office as Parma councilman as an opportunity to make a difference in the city he loves.
Stover gave his life to Christ as a teenager when his sister invited him to attend a storefront church on the West Side of Cleveland. Since that day, he says he has "looked at life much differently."
For more than 25 years, Stover has been a Sunday School teacher for third and fourth graders at Cleveland Baptist Church in Brooklyn. "I see myself as a Sunday School teacher who happens to be an elected official," Stover smiles. "My job as councilman has a temporary impact, but my role as Sunday School teacher gives me an opportunity to impact lives in an eternal fashion." Stover's influence as an elected official for the seventh largest city in the state is far reaching, however. He recently wrote a letter to the Parma School Board, urging them to adopt a policy based on the Ohio General Assembly's passage of a bill that allows for "a moment of silence for reflection and prayer" at the beginning of each school day.
He and other Parma council members have seized opportunities to take a stance on local and federal issues. "It is critical that we, as elected officials, send a clear and precise message of our municipality's beliefs so those in higher offices will sit up and take notice," Stover explains. For example, Stover has introduced numerous resolutions regarding abortion, partial birth abortion and the Freedom of Choice Act - all of which were passed unanimously by the council and were given to Ohio and U.S. senators and representatives to follow up.
Stover also co-sponsored legislation regulating adult entertainment in Parma, and spearheaded an effort for "zero tolerance" policy in the community libraries regarding Internet access to pornography. His strong commitment to "being a good steward, as outlined in the New Testament" has helped him be prudent in spending money entrusted to the city; for example, he has helped to substantially reduce annual healthcare costs in Parma. In addition to his public service, Stover works in the private sector in information systems for Medical Mutual. His wife of 26 years, Diane, and his two grown children are also high on his priority list.
"I believe our role is to be active in the community - not to be cloistered in our churches and separated from the world. That is the reason for our moral decay," Loparo states emphatically. "God created three governing bodies: family, church and community. As Christians, we can't stop at the church." Loparo became a Christian late in life. He describes his former self as "an accomplished, successful and busy businessman." After a business trip in 1980, he decided to go to church with his wife for the first time. She had prayed to receive Christ nine years earlier during an evangelistic television program, and had prayed for her husband ever since. That night, Loparo recalls the choir director saying, "Someone didn't hear that last song; let's sing it again." During the chorus, "Oh, how He loves you and me. He gave His life, what more could he give," Loparo broke down and cried. "That was the turning point in my life. I began my quest to study the Bible and restore my life. Soon after, I began teaching and being active in the community," he says.
Today, Loparo brings his faith and his business experience to Madison, one of the fastest growing communities in Lake County. He fights against new taxes and for affordable housing. He strongly believes in the U.S. Constitution and quality of life issues. Loparo has used his influence as a public officer to support State Representative Ron Young's campaign for "Choose Life" license plates in Ohio.
When he is not serving on council, Loparo and his wife of 43 years, Michael, operate His Majesty's Tea Room in Madison. They have four grown children and 12 grandchildren, and are active in Shiloh Christian Church in Leroy. Loparo is also a part-time health insurance consultant.
"Our Constitution is based on Judeo-Christian ethics," he emphasizes. "The only way we can exist is to honor God. I try to understand and guide people through things that magnify the Lord by applying biblical standards and ethics to everything."