CHICAGO, IL (November 5, 2012) – God is king, and his people are called to unity regardless of who wins the presidential election, say Evangelical Covenant Church pastors whose congregations are celebrating Election Day Communion services.
The congregations are among more than 700 in an ecumenical “network” around the country hosting the services. “We’re kingdom people before we’re Republicans and Democrats,” observes Pete Hawkinson, pastor of Winnetka Covenant Church in Wilmette, Illinois.
“Our participation in the election night Communion campaign might be summed up best by the words I’ve included in our planning: ‘we will gather in deepest unity, despite our seeming divisions,’ ” says Joel Anderle, pastor of Community Covenant Church in West Peabody, Massachusetts. He describes his congregation as “wonderfully plural” in political matters. “Folks will vote Republican, Democrat and third party.”
Tim Hedberg, pastor of Clear Lake Covenant Church in Clear Lake, Washington, says his church is participating because, “Christ modeled and invited all people to become followers of him, and the place he brought them and an act that he gave us to profess our faith in him over every other ‘god’ was at the table through communion. At the table all other lesser loyalties find their proper place.”
Jo Ann Deasy, pastor of Sojourner Covenant Church in Evanston, Illinois, was enthusiastic about the idea when a congregation member suggested the service. “Celebrating communion on election day seemed an appropriate response, reflecting our unity in Christ, as people forgiving and forgiven, seeking to live out our faith in response to Christ’s tremendous grace and passion for justice.”
Church member Andy Hayes adds, “We are not doing this service to be political, or to preach a side to people.”
Church leaders acknowledge presidential politics have always been divisive, but add that the rise of social media as well as partisan television and radio programs have made the situation worse. Gathering physically together for communion is the antithesis of what too often happens on Facebook and Twitter.
Pastors emphasize that participating in political discussions is important. “As a community, we have been praying through this election seeking to understand what it is to take a political position, even to be passionate about what we feel are issues of morality or social justice, while continuing to speak to one another with love and grace,” says Deasy. “We feel that healthy dialogue around our differences is essential to deepening our Christian faith and our life together as the body of Christ.”