Written by Traci Blackmon
In this 2016 election cycle, with its heightened polarization, partisanship and mean-spiritedness, it may seem especially difficult for people of faith to engage in the electoral process in a meaningful, faithful, nonpartisan way. But perhaps more than ever, our faith, our vote and our voices can make a difference. As we move to a summer of campaigning and conventions, it is critical to find ways to bring an alternative voice and witness to the public sphere.
The UCC Our Faith Our Vote campaign offers several ways to make a positive difference in the electoral process and our civic life. Through nonpartisan voter registration efforts, issue education forums, voter mobilization/protection activities, and more.
We invite you to check out our resources and think of ways you might engage yourself and your community in the 2016 elections.
Want to take your engagement to the next level? Consider leading your congregation in this effort by serving as a local captain for Our Faith Our Vote engagement or applying for an Our Faith Our Vote grant.
What does being an Our Faith Our Vote captain entail?
As a captain you will assist your congregation in activities related to at least one of three areas:
- Voter Registration - Organize a church voter registration team. Make sure your congregation is 100% registered. Register your church-based or community service clients. Provide your college-bound students with information on absentee voting or voting in their campus community.
- 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.
Got an idea you’re ready to run with? Apply for a grant!
This year we are making five OFOV grants available in the amount of $2,000 for local organizing efforts to register voters, provide issue education and to encourage voters to go to the polls in November. These efforts should be strictly nonpartisan and focus on key issues of concern in your community.
In the 2014 midterm elections, congregations in Wisconsin and North Carolina used OFOV grants to empower and educate voters about their state’s voting laws. A congregation in California used an OFOV grant to develop voter registration and issue education opportunities to educate voters about a school board ballot initiative. Each setting has its own unique needs and opportunities for engagement. What might you do in your community?
Pick the point of engagement with the OFOV campaign that most interests and energizes you and your congregation, and let us know about your work.
Even in the midst of such a challenging and often divisive election campaign season, our voice, our faith and our vote can and does make a difference! I hope you will join in helping to lift every voice in making informed, thoughtful decisions about the future of our local communities, nation and world.
Rev. Traci Blackmon
Acting Executive Minister
Justice & Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ Washington Office