In Rockingham, N.C. – the county seat of rural Richmond County – worshipers at Mt. Zion United Church of Christ get reminders each Sunday about the importance of voting.
"During announcement time, we encourage people to register if they have not," said Mt. Zion's pastor, the Rev. Dian Griffin Jackson (right), who always has registration forms on hand. "We always let them know when early voting starts. We remind them of the urgency and what's at stake. We do this every Sunday." When local candidate forums and voter-education opportunities arise, details appear in announcements and inserts in the worship bulletin.
It seems to work. Jackson said "at least 92 percent" of the congregation's 90-or-so members are active voters – though "100 percent is always the hope." She said several members are active in registration and protect-the-vote activities through Democracy North Carolina and the NAACP. She and the church also take the message to the streets, through methods like an outdoor voter-education event (right) and speaking out about voting at a community march honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (below).
North Carolina's March 3 "Super Tuesday" primary and the Nov. 3 general election are on her mind. "When these kinds of elections come, especially with the division happening in our country today, we are not silent," she said. "It's past time for me to write my editorial to the newspaper."
The UCC has worked for years, and especially in presidential election years, to help churches and members know what they can do – in legal, nonpartisan ways – to educate and empower voters. Videos and downloadable toolkits are available at the Our Faith, Our Vote web page.
"Elections matter – whether local, state or national," said Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC's office in Washington, D.C. "Their outcomes influence decisions that are made about policies that impact our daily lives – health care, education, transportation, student loan debt, clean water, public safety and much more. 2020 is a pivotal election year. The challenges before our communities, our nation and our world are immense and urgent. Our vote is our voice – it is our way to participate in the common good and to help shape the way we approach the policy challenges before us. Faith voices are an essential and unique voice in the electoral process."