Faith leaders share words of unity, prayer ahead of Election Day results
The new dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral held several virtual Election Day prayer services on Tuesday as a way to call Christians to their "common language" amidst a divisive political landscape.
A third service, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, was to be livestreamed from St. Paul's chapel via Dean Katie Churchwell's Facebook page. The Rt. Rev. Poulson Reed, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, and Canon Eric Cooter joined Churchwell in leading the service.
Churchwell said she decided to host the prayer services to help counter the current disharmony surrounding the election.
"I won't say it's the most divisive our country's ever been — I've been gifted with such a small portion of time in this life — but it is particularly divided and divisive," Churchwell said.
"I think prayer calls us to a place of common language and a place of common values. To be honest as Christians we are called to be people of prayer. There are lots of places that we can not come together but here at God's table, at God's (altar) railing, at God's words, our voices can be raised together in prayer. I think that's so important for us to remember — that first and foremost, we are God's beloved and any other identity we have is secondary to that."
In the days leading up to Tuesday's election, other ministers and Christian leaders also took to social media to share special remarks referring to the contentious political backdrop.
Poulson said he emailed a letter to Episcopalians across Oklahoma "just to remind everyone that we are all children of God."
"We have lot of Episcopalians in Oklahoma who are Republicans and lots who are Democrats and we can each bring our values to our vote while still having respect for those who differ from us," he said. "My letter was meant to remind us of that connection, that bond that we share and a reminder as well to be praying. As Christian people, we're called first and foremost to pray — to pray for one another and to pray for God's peace and justice in our world."
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Meanwhile, the Rev. Bob Long, senior minister of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, discussed the election in a video entitled "Coffee with Bob: Election Day" that was posted on Facebook Tuesday morning.
Long's church started 2020 with a year-long emphasis on the theme "Love Thy Neighbor: No Exceptions" and he recently completed a sermon series called "The Odd Couple," which aimed to show that people could build friendships and work together despite ideological differences.
Tuesday, the minister emphasized the importance of personal accountability for upholding unity, particularly in fractious times.
"We can choose how we are going to go through this process and I would like to believe that we are going to take a higher road — that we're going to be the people who work to help bring us together in this country rather than continue to divide us between 'them' and 'us,'" Long said.
Other religious leaders shared views along those same lines.
The Rev. Clarence Hill, lead pastor of Antioch Norman and founder of Stronger Together OKC, held a virtual prayer service on Monday night to pray for unity over the elections.
"We still have to live in the same country after tomorrow, so let’s pray that we become great at loving our neighbors and that wholeness would prevail over division," Hill said.
Like Churchwell and Poulson, the Rev. Craig Groeschel reminded his church members on Monday that they are followers of Christ and he encouraged them to focus on God's sovereignty regardless of the election results.
Groeschel, founding senior pastor of Edmond-based Life.Church, sent a video to his congregation in an email entitled "After the Election."
"No matter who holds office — our God holds the world," Groeschel said.
At Council Road Baptist Church, the Rev. Rick Thompson, senior pastor, also referred to the election as he encouraged his congregation to put the current political situation in its proper perspective. His remarks were included in a video posted on the church's Facebook page.
"As I said a couple of weeks ago, as Christ followers and those who love the Scriptures, we do not see Jesus through the eyes of politics. We do not see the Bible through the eyes of politics. Instead, we see politics through the eyes of Jesus. We see politics, our political situation, through the eyes of Scripture so we always want to maintain that perspective, especially in a very difficult political season that we're in right now. So we need to remember our witness," Thompson said.
"One thing is for sure, on Tuesday, Jesus is King and on Wednesday, the day after Election Day, Jesus is King."