On a day when the American population is certainly divided, several churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference are using this opportunity to offer a sense of unity as Christians worshipping one God. Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery, AL, offered communion services at 7am and Noon and another will be this evening at 7pm in their chapel. This was a staff project where they imagined what it would look like to welcome poll workers and voters.
"Aldersgate loves to host polling on Election Day," said Dr. Brian Miller, pastor. "It’s one of the ways that we actively serve our community. Opening up the chapel and offering communion at our open table seemed the most helpful and meaningful."
Frazer Memorial UMC is also serving as a voting precinct and hosting a time of prayer in their East Sanctuary. "We have opened our worship space today for prayer from 7am to 7pm," said Dr. Larry Bryars, senior pastor. "We hope that all will feel free to drop in during the day, whether they vote here or not, to pray for our nation, our future president as well as other leaders. We acknowledge that God is still in control when we stop and pray. It is our prayer that this gives each of us hope for tomorrow. Printed prayer guides will also be available as a resource."
Huntingdon College, the conference United Methodist academic institution, also found ways to serve on this monumental day. In addition to being a polling precinct, the college always utilizes student volunteers, called Huntingdon Ambassadors, to welcome voters to their campus. These students are campus leaders who work with the Office of College and Alumni Relations and the Office of the President. Their main task is to introduce college visitors and friends to the Huntingdon student experience, by welcoming visitors to events, and by making presentations about Huntingdon for churches and community organizations. Their presence at the Cloverdale voting location connected the college to the community. The ambassadors were stationed at the front door to offer a friendly face and assistance to anyone who might have needed it.
Dr. Jeff Wilson, Mobile District Superintendent, in his message to his district on October 19
, offered suggestions to those who have felt frustrated over what seems to be an all-time high of political anxiety. Wilson said, "As the people called Methodist, we have a holy obligation to carry light into our corners of the world. Many would have us believe that the fate of the world rests upon the results of our upcoming presidential election. Not only is such a belief politically naïve, it is also theologically irresponsible. The God of Creation will not be limited by the results of any election – regardless of what the pundits might tell us."
Dothan FUMC took a slightly different approach by opening their doors last Wednesday. Dr. Jim Sanders, senior pastor, explained, "We encourage our own pastors not to practice 'Saturday night panic sermon preparation' and our laity not to practice 'election day panic praying.' We have been embracing a discipline of praying for this election for an entire year. We capped that off by opening our chapel to the community for prayer last week."
Good News UMC in Destin, FL, hosted a "come and go" time of prayer from 7am-5pm. No formal service was held, instead printed prayer guides were issued at the door. "We've just made it clear it's not about praying your candidate wins but about praying God's wisdom and guidance for all of our leaders, whoever they might be," said Dr. Chris Perry, senior pastor. Orange Beach UMC, Brewton FUMC, Robertsdale UMC and FUMC Marianna also opened their doors for prayer in a similar way.
Clanton FUMC encouraged their community to vote, then visit their annual "Soup Day." This event is sponsored by the church United Methodist Women. For $6 members and guests received homemade vegetable soup, cornbread, a beverage and dessert. A craft and bake sale was also held from 11:00-1:00pm with all money supporting the church mission projects.
Throughout the day and time leading up to the election, United Methodists in our conference help make it clear that prayer is a vital act of living in covenant with God and one another. These times of quiet discernment were a respite from our worldly challenges and stress. Let us continue to prayerfully seek God's wisdom today, tomorrow and throughout the year, giving thanks for His unending grace, mercy, provision, and love.
Click here to see photos from Aldersgate UMC's time of communion and prayer