Remember 2012, when Obama versus Romney seemed like a contentious presidential election?
It was enough for a group of Mennonite ministers, who responded back then by launching the Election Day Communion movement. The idea was to inspire Christians to use allegiance to Christ to overcome the ugly rhetoric and feelings of partisan politics.
On Election Day, 2016, organizers say the movement is as strong as ever, and as needed as ever. Today, 316 congregations across the nation and Christian spectrum plan to hold communion services for voters and others frazzled by the bizarre twists and turns of Clinton versus Trump.
But what about those who cannot get to a communion service today? Baptist News Global contacted several ministers — from pastors to chaplains to abbots and nonprofit directors — for their suggestions on how to find peace, perspective and even compassion in the midst of one of the most stressful political campaigns in American history. Most of them provided their comments via email or social media, while a few were interviewed by phone.
John Crowder, pastor, First Baptist Church, West, Texas
For me, I think the key is to remember that God is bigger than politics, problems or presidents. We need to pray, vote and then trust while declaring Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Joshua Hearne, abbot, Grace and Main, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel and executive director of Third Chance Ministries in Danville, Va.
Almighty and uniting God, who has made a people for yourself from among all the peoples of the world, help us to place our faith not in the powers and rulers of this world, but in the God that is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Reconcile us, one to another, and make peace between those of us who have strayed from our first calling to love. We ask these things in order that we might more fully abide in your presence, O God who is love, and in the name of our Lord. Amen.
Gerry Hutchinson, Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Manager, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and retired Navy chaplain
The ties that bind us as Americans are more important than the lines that divide us. After a most contentious presidential election we all need to work to find a measure of healing. Learning to listen to one another and to understand our differing perspectives will help us find ways to work together for our common good and the good of our country.
Tony Lankford, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, Ga.
The bigger challenge for the church will be tomorrow. Our pews are full of people who will go to the voting booth with differing opinions, but equal theological and political conviction. On Wednesday, the church will need to do what we do not always do well: disagree yet maintain community and fellowship.
Merianna Neely, preaching interim, New Hope Christian Fellowship in Columbia, S.C., and co-pastor of ministrieslab
Perhaps what this political season has revealed has nothing to do with parties or presidential nominees, but the deep longing of American people to be heard and to belong. As ministers and faith communities, may this political season remind us how important and transformative creating spaces that welcome and affirm all people and help our neighbors in need can be.
Stephanie McLeskey, university chaplain, Mars Hill University
This campaign season has certainly felt more divisive than most. It is profoundly important in these moments to remember that this is not the beginning or the end of the story. Take some time to reflect upon the core teachings of the Christian faith. Take some time to remember who we are and Whose we are. Take some time to breathe — to re-center. With messages of doom and gloom being trumpeted everywhere we turn, now is the time to discover that we have not just been paying lip service to faith, hope and love, but that they are actually at the core of our shared identity. Once the day itself has passed, we must also re-discover everything we ever learned about loving our neighbor, and about loving those whom we perceive as “enemies.” God’s mission of love has not changed, and will not change. Let that truth hold us up and carry us through.
Starlette McNeill, associate pastor, Village Baptist Church, Bowie, Md.
During this election and any other, it is important to remember that God is not a localized or national deity. God is not a Democrat, Republican or an Independent. Consequently, you and I are not voting for the Savior of the world but a president. We are voting on the affairs of America — not the kingdom of God. So, “render under Caesar what belongs to Caesar” (Mark 12.17). And it is an election season; no matter our angst, anger and fear, it, too, will pass. No matter who is elected as the next president of the United States of America, we, as Christians are known by our love — not our vote.
Kenneth Meyers, faith formation specialist, Alliance of Baptists
Let’s try to keep a steady ship but in the process also not forget the voice of dissent of those who have been outsiders for so long and who want their voices heard in … how this country governs itself.
Alan Rudnick, commentator, author and executive minister of DeWitt Community Church in DeWitt, N.Y.
Just remember that you’re not electing the savior. You’re electing a flawed individual who by popularity or policies is to fulfill a vision of the country that they believe in. No political system is going to achieve the goals of Christ’s kingdom. And don’t confuse the two. The Kingdom of God doesn’t have politics because Christ is King and we often think our democracy is a Christian democracy. But it never was. Our leader is already established and we Christians have to do the best with what we have.
Sue Smith, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel and co-founder of LUCHA Ministries, Fredericksburg, Va.
For more than a year now, we have been bombarded by constant reminders of this bizarre election. But through the ages, God has consistently worked amidst difficult, impossible and bizarre circumstances. Whoever wins, God will still be God and will continue working through his followers in the world.
Elijah Zehyoue, director of programs and communication, New Baptist Covenant
I maintain a sense of peace because I believe that God is ultimately in control despite who governs. God pushes us to act justly in this world, but God also ultimately reminds us that without us her justice will reign.