Quieting the rancor with communion
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Nov 7, 2012, 13:35
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Pastor Bert Cloud decided to participate in Election Day Communion because he liked the idea of promoting harmony between those with differing political views.
Political passions tend to reach a fever pitch in the run up to presidential elections, as biting commentary and negative ads abound.
This year, a group of Mennonite pastors decided to issue a call for togetherness through the idea of Election Day Communion.
“I became very concerned, as a pastor and a person working through the community, about the rancor...that we’ve all lived through as people in a swing state,” said Bert Cloud, pastor at Sycamore United Methodist Church in Prince George County.
Cloud became aware of the Election Day Communion movement, which asked churches across the country and across denominations to host unifying communion ceremonies on election day, through Facebook. Cloud and his wife, who is the pastor at The Stand United Methodist Church, also in Prince George, decided to enroll their churches. They joined 895 participants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Bothered by the caustic tone of political commentary, Cloud liked the idea of setting aside a period of time, after the polls closed and before the results came in, to promote a spirit of togetherness.
“I know that one of the things my faith teaches me is to pray for my neighbor and pray for my enemies and still be in communion with people I disagree with,” he said.
He invited members of his own church as well as others to join him in open communion on Tuesday night, choosing Biblical readings that emphasized themes of universal love for God and humanity.
“Communion means to be entwined with each other in our lives and our spirits and with God,” Cloud said.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Members of all denominations were free to participate in Election Day Communion.
The mood inside the church ranged from contemplative to jubilant, as an extra verse found its way into the hymn, “I’m Gonna Live so God can use me.”
“I’m gonna vote so God can use me,” the congregation sang.
Betty Lucy said the event tied in with the 40 days of prayer many churches launched in advance of the election. Lucy said she was praying that whoever wins would work for the people and Christ.
Jean Elder said she liked the theme of agreement and civility.
“I think it’s very important that our nation heals, whichever way,” she said. “I’m glad the election is over. I hope it comes out the way I voted, but, if not, we learn to live with each other.”
As people left the church, some carried items to donate to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, placing them in the back of a truck leaving for New Jersey on Wednesday.
Cloud said he was happy to see that he had an audience for Election Night Communion, which he described as the beginning of what could be a new trend.
“This is really, as I understand it, one of the first times that there was kind of a networked group across the country that did this,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see.”