Monica Goodling did not leave deep, lasting memories on many in York County.
But York Daily Record/Sunday News reporters continue to develop the portrait of the former York Haven-area woman who has been part of proceedings probing the Bush administration’s firing of U.S. attorneys… .
Reporter Melissa Nann Burke found members of Goodling’s former church in her story: ‘She’ll come through this.’
Her story (May 28, 2007) follows:
Monica Goodling, the now-famous ex-aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has been described as a deeply religious woman who lives her faith but doesn’t necessarily talk about it.
“Absolutely,” said Mark Gilman, concurring Sunday with that description of the York Haven native.
Gilman, 36, was recalling Goodling from earlier days — the early 1990s when they were in youth group at Manchester Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church in East Manchester Township.
Back then, Goodling was outgoing, but not a cheerleader-type or overbearing, he said.
After church Sunday, other members recalled Goodling as kind, friendly and bright — “a good Christian girl.”
In the years since she left York County, Goodling, now 33, rose to a senior job at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee last week about the department firing scandal, Goodling said her role in the dismissals had been exaggerated but admitted to having “crossed the line” of civil-service rules on hiring by asking political questions of applicants for career positions.
A 1999 graduate of Regent University Law School, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, Goodling has been painted in some media reports as a religious zealot and power-driven lawyer with little experience.
Goodling sought to distance herself from that characterization during testimony, saying, “At heart, I am a fairly quiet girl who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way.”
She chose Christian universities in part because of the value they placed on service, she said.
News of Goodling’s faith made Gilman glad to hear she hadn’t compromised her Christian values in her work or education.
“It’s good to see she wasn’t afraid to say who she was or where she came from,” said Gilman, of Dover Township.
As far as the inappropriate questioning, Gilman said Goodling was probably making informal conversation and trying to get to know her applicants better.
Church member Frances Feltenberger, 83, missed Goodling’s televised testimony, but said she was praying for her.
“I didn’t know where she had got to,” said Feltenberger of Springettsbury Township. “But I knew she would tell the truth. She’s not going to lie. . . . I’m hoping it’s going to turn out good.”
The Rev. Thomas Gilman, who is Mark’s father, said Goodling, her mother and stepfather were members of Manchester Assembly of God when he arrived as pastor in 1990.
The church began in 1960 in a Mount Wolf home. The brick chapel building on Board Road in East Manchester Township has housed the congregation since 1980.
A marquee by the street Sunday read “God Bless America” in honor of Memorial Day, and several men of the congregation donned stars-and-stripes neckties.
The typical Sunday crowd averages 50. Members host revival weekends regularly and next month plan a Carolina-style barbecue fundraiser in Manchester. The pastor emphasized divine healing by the Holy Spirit and prayer during his sermon.
The Rev. Gilman hasn’t seen Goodling in eight to 10 years and was reluctant to comment. He’s spoken in recent weeks with her mother and stepfather and knows Goodling requested they not speak publicly.
“I will say this. What she’s going through is more than a political thing, more than a partisan thing between Republicans and Democrats. I see it as a spiritual warfare kind of thing,” he said.
“There are things we go through that are definitely attacks of the enemy. I think that what she’s going through isn’t all that but it’s part of it. I know she’ll come through this. I don’t know what her future will be.”
The Rev. Gilman recalled Charles W. Colson, the chief counsel for President Nixon who was jailed for Watergate-related charges. Colson started a ministry called Prison Fellowship after his release.
“He came through things,” the Rev. Gilman said.
“I’m not inferring anything like that would happen to ( Goodling), but we should remember Romans 8:28: ‘God works all good things together for those who love God.'”
For a look at the region where Monica Goodling grew up, see Big Conewago serves as physical, cultural divide in York County.