As the November 3rd election approaches, I am reminded of my grandfather and uncle who served as political officials in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I grew up. My uncle served as County Trustee and County Mayor. Grandfather Graves served 32 years on the school board. In several of the county and school buildings, you find their names as they held these offices when the buildings were constructed.
During the early years of my grandfather’s tenure, he served with fellow school board member, Archie Campbell. Mr. Campbell was a songwriter, singer, comedian, and personality extraordinaire who appeared on several television shows. Archie Campbell was a United Methodist and member at Bulls Gap UMC in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. My dad shared with me recently how Archie Campbell would call their house to talk school board business and politics with my grandfather who loved God, family, the Methodist church, business and politics.
In this moment, I do not wish to talk politics, but I do want to encourage everyone to vote. It is most important that each of us exercise this right that we should not take for granted. This is not only true in a presidential election, but every time there is a local or state election. When Nancy and I moved to Montgomery, one of the first things we did was register to vote here in the state we now call home for this season of our lives.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, offered advice to early Methodists about voting. He encouraged them to: 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worth. 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against. 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
What sound advice for the times we are living in right now.
During these days leading up to and following the November 3rd election, I would encourage each of us to be in prayer for our nation and all who are running for office. Please vote! Do all you can to ensure that every eligible U.S. citizen has accessibility to vote in person or by mail-in ballot.
Let’s continue to be mindful of Mr. Wesley’s advice to take care of our spirits following the election. There is a lot of emotion and opinion surrounding this election so our witness to others following the election is most important.
I appreciate the opportunity and privilege to serve as your bishop.
David W. Graves
Alabama-West Florida Conference