Written by Jessie Palatucci
The updates keep coming in and I am thrilled to see the creative ways that UCC congregations are engaging their communities in this Election. The best part? Each of the congregations we’ve heard from is shaping their Our Faith Our Vote efforts to meet the unique need of their community.
Check out these examples:
Voter Registration in Ohio
Amistad Chapel UCC, in downtown Cleveland, is working with area students, the homeless and formerly incarcerated persons to make sure they are properly registered and educated on the ballot issues.
Charlene Higginbotham-Adams, who coordinates Amistad Chapel UCC's election efforts, said the congregation "knew it was going to be a very important [election] and we wanted to be sure everyone had a chance to vote." She told UC News,
"The communities we identified — the homeless, students, returning citizens — have challenges getting to the polls, proving they have a permanent address or that they meet residency requirements — or their eligibility to vote is often overlooked.”
Why do the members of Amistad Chapel UCC feel that they need to be involved in this way?
"During the Civil Rights Era, the church was the meeting place for those fighting for the right to vote. The Church today is still that place where folk gather to deal with issues of injustice and proposals that directly affect them," Higginbotham-Adams said.
This team has more in store in the coming weeks before Election Day. On Oct. 5, the congregation is hosting a candidate and issues forum at a local community center, with participation from both major political parties, and four days later on October 9 they will host a forum led by the Rev. Rita Root, general minister of the UCC Western Reserve Association. They also plan to provide support for organizations providing transportation to get voters to the polls.
Voter Education in Detroit
Fellowship Chapel UCC held their first Our Faith Our Vote “Voter Education" session last month. Together 75 participants spent time learning what’s at stake in their federal, state, and local elections.
They followed up with a little bit of fun, tuning in to the first presidential debate through a Debate Watch party.
Next up? Fellowship UCC is contacting individuals in their congregation to remind them that the last day to register to vote in Michigan is October 11, 2016.
Ecumenical Voter Registration in Oakland
Plymouth UCC in Oakland is reaching out in to their community through an ecumenical partnership with Saint James Episcopal Church. Together they are working to increase the number of registered voters in marginalized, African-American, Latino, and Asian communities in the Bay Area, especially immigrant and monolingual voters.
Members form both congregations teamed up and held their first voter registration drive on September 25th. They plan to be out in the community and registering voters every Sunday until October 24th, the last day to register in California.