Politics is often taken to be a dirty word.
But political processes are simply the way that communities organize their common life. For people of faith, public policy is never merely politics. It is a way of living out the commandments to love our neighbor as ourselves.
It is fitting for local congregations and church structures to develop nonpartisan programs to help the faith community reflect upon the political order. Such a calling was affirmed by General Synod 11 in 1977. A resolution noted that the UCC has, throughout its history, sought to "equip the saints for the task of prophetic ministry within the biblical tradition," and invited various settings of the church to pursue this ministry by providing voter registration, public hearing on policy issues and "encouraging participation in the political process."
Congregations can develop and engage in nonpartisan programs, including sending teams to interview candidates, organizing candidate nights in churches, holding issue education sessions for members and conducting voter registration and participation drives. In all these activities, the goal is to get the concerns of the church into public debate through the media and to elect candidates concerned about promoting justice and the common good.
The UCC's "Our Faith, Our Vote" campaign has been designed to help you discover ways in which you and your congregation can get involved in the legal process. The IRS tax code provides latitude for churches and religious organizations to navigate the waters of political involvement.
The November mid-term elections will shape congressional debate and action around the war in Iraq, health care coverage, hurricane recovery, rising energy costs and "wedge" issues such as just and humane immigration policy and the proposed constitutional amendment on marriage.
The challenges before our nation and the world are great, and it is as important as ever that we equip ourselves and each other to make informed, thoughtful decisions about those who will lead us into the future, based on our faith values.
It is Justice and Witness Ministries' fervent hope that you will connect and reconnect with members of your local church and community this year through the "Our Faith, Our Vote" campaign.
The Rev. Linda Jaramillo is executive minister for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries and a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers.
Related stories on the UCC's "Our Faith, Our Vote" campaign, including more information about IRS tax code guidelines, can be found on pages 16-17. Learn more online at .