In the hours after the end of a divisive and bitter U.S. presidential election, United Church of Christ pastors and ministers began the challenging work of offering a pastoral response to a fractured nation. Today, their message is one of moving past their anger and grief, and getting back to the work of pushing for love and justice for all.
"Grieve quickly. Hold on to one another today. Cry. Feel all of the fear that is rumbling around in you. And then," said the Rev. Cameron Trimble, "Rise up."
"As we begin our day today, remember that we are all in this together," wrote Trimble, CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal. "We are bound by love, and we are stronger than we could ever imagine. So, be the Body of Christ in the world. Embody kindness, do justice, and walk humbly. For that sake of all that is good, keep the faith and keep moving. Feel the pain of this day, but don't let it define our future. Our best days are still ahead."
Conference Minister the Rev. Mike Denton, of the Pacific Northwest Conference, believes that the deeply-divided nation suddenly feels less safe, but the church can still be a place of refuge. "The idea of providing sanctuary is not a new one — it is the idea of opening up our churches and making them a safe space for people who are feeling threatened by the world," Denton said. "Over the coming hours, days, weeks, months and years, more and more people are going to be asking for us to provide some sort of sanctuary; everything from providing a space for prayer and a listening ear to a place where they can find physical safety from a world that endangers them. We need to start the conversation about how to do that within and between our churches, now."
The Rev. George Miller, pastor of Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Sebring, Fla., was among the scores of pastors calling on their congregation to continue its justice work.
"There are those filled with great hope; there are those filled with great fear. There are those that feel fully alive; there are those that feel utterly numb," Miller wrote to his members. "My request today is that no matter how we voted, no matter where we stand or where we rest on the results, that we, as a church stay united. That we honor and respect one another; that we honor and respect one another's voices, opinions, thoughts."
"I also continue to hold true to what I have come to know about Emmanuel UCC — that we are a congregation full of loving, welcoming folk, with a superb spirit of hospitality and inclusion, always growing, always moving ahead, always becoming the people in Christ we were called to be."
The Rev. Dwayne Royster, political director of PICO Network in Washington, D.C., a national network of faith communities, believes that the path will be hard, but possible if people of faith continue to embrace love for all.
"I am reminded that Jesus tells us that we must go the narrow way," he said. "I believe the narrow way is the way of love. I believe the essence of our faith is about love that embraces all that this election wants us to hate. I believe the narrow way is not about fear and condemnation but about the love of God. I believe the narrow way calls us to truth telling and confession that creates healing and wholeness. I believe the narrow way calls us to care deeply about the other."
"Tonight, I renew the call I offered some months ago to gather those who would be prophets in this generation," Royster continued. "Not just those that want to give a word, but those that will do a work, put their hands to the plow and not look back. Right now we need Prophets that will speak truth to power unequivocally and will speak truth to the people as well."
The Rev. Jim Antal, conference minister and president of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ, sent out a message Wednesday morning to the 12,000 UCC members in his conference, noting that "our personal vocation and our collective calling to make God's love and justice real is being tested like never before."
Read the rest of "Mourning in America" here.