Our Faith, Our Vote, Our Voice: Faithful, Nonpartisan Engagement this Election

By Elizabeth Durant, First Congregational UCC, Portland, Oregon

our-faith-our-voice
As we approach the November election this fall, many of us are disheartened and weighed down by despair. For the first time in 50 years, voters will go to the polls without the protections of the Voting Rights Act. In the news, we read of discriminatory attacks on the democratic process at polling places across our nation.

In our families and neighborhoods, we experience divisive debate and polarizing rhetoric about political candidates and public policies. At times, it seems impossible to have a respectful dialogue about the key issues facing our communities.

Yet we know that church – our s
acred space where we encounter the face of God in one another — is not a “politics-free zone.” Our congregations are precisely the place where we need to model respectful dialogue about political issues and concerns.

traci3Rev. Traci Blackmon, Executive Minister for Justice & Witness Ministries, writes:

“For people of faith, the public arena we know as “politics” represents much more than the partisan politicking we see on the news. It is a means by which we live out the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Scripture reminds us over and over that building right relationship in human community and with God’s creation is an act inseparable from our relationship with God.

So it is important for faith communities to engage in nonpartisan voter education and empowerment programs that help us reflect on our collective life and work to uplift the common good through the political process.”

Our national UCC offers an “Our Faith Our Vote” campaign with resources for enabling us to encourage the civil, respectful, informed dialogue that builds community and a hope-filled vision of the future that includes all people. Here are a few of the resources offered online:

If you are passionate about being involved this election season, consider leading your congregation by becoming an “Our Faith Our Vote” Captain! Captains assist their congregation in activities related to at least one of three areas:

  • Voter Education – Hold issue forums in which church members can talk openly and respectfully about key issues in this election season on the local, state, federal and international levels. Create spaces to encourage people to connect their faith with their hopes for the 2016 election and beyond.
  • Voter Empowerment and Mobilization – Organize nonpartisan get-out-the-vote activities for your congregation and community. Empower members of your community with the information they need to exercise their right to vote.
  • Voter Registration – Make sure your congregation is 100% registered.  (NOTE: If you live in Oregon, you may be automatically registered, but need help designating your party affiliation; visit http://sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/motor-voter-faq.aspx to learn more.) Register your church-based or community service clients.  Provide your college-bound students with information on absentee voting or voting in their campus community.

We hope that these resources will enable you to be a role model for respectful dialogue in your congregation, and in your wider community, this election season.

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Join Us in Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

50th anniversary march

WHERE: Terry Schrunk Plaza (SW 3rd Ave and SW Madison St)

WHEN: August 24th (10am)

WHAT: March and Rally: The rally will focus on seizing this opportunity to organize around civil rights and demand that systematic injustices and inequities are addressed.

This event will coincide with the national event in Washington, D.C., bringing together local activists & communities in solidarity with the ongoing Civil Rights movement.

The issues that compelled the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, including lack of economic opportunity and police brutality, are still the pressing issues for communities of color and LGBT people of color today.

The commemorative march will begin at 10am on August 24th, at Terry Schrunk Plaza and we will march to South Waterfront Park, where the rally, speakers, and music will begin at 1pm.

Please use this link to sign up for the march: http://bit.ly/PDXMarch50

Sponsored by Basic Rights Oregon, Albina Ministerial Alliance, PFLAG (Portland, Black Chapter), and community partners.

 

Deep Travel

Will Fuller, Kairos-Milwaukie UC

Every summer for the past four years, my wife and I have traveled by car to a small city in Quebec, Canada to visit our son’s family.  This year, as we traveled I was reading a book by Tony Hiss, In Motion.  This book explores

making use of an ancient, innate, ground-shifting variant of ordinary waking consciousness that we can … call Deep Travel. … It can, among many effects, give…the sense that even a long-familiar route…exists within such a fullness of brand-new or at least new-to-me information and questions that I wonder how I ever had the capacity to exclude them from consideration (p. 9)

In short, the very act of travel can bring a deep appreciation of the transcendent splendor that surrounds us.  We see our old world with fresh, new eyes.  In that transcendence, we may gain a glimpse of the One in whose Name we call for peace and justice

in the rimrock land of eastern Oregon

 

in the prairie preserves of Illinois

 

in the rushing rivers of Quebec’s Laurentian Shield

 

in a friendly Canadian public pool

 

in the Nevada desert, where Latino workers walk from a shantytown across the tracks to work in the luxury casino resorts on the other side

 

in Montana’s mountains, where tough Harley bikers kneel before chipmunks

 

in Yellowstone National Park, where pilgrims from all over the world, speaking a Babel of languages, stand in awe before the old, faithful grandeur of Creation

 

and in all the places we travel on life’s journey.