Saying ‘outcome doesn’t change our mission,’ UCC leaders await election results – actively
As the nation awaits the definitive word about the results of the presidential election, United Church of Christ leaders continue to urge “revolutionary patience,” hold prayer vigils, offer webinars on spiritual leadership and advocate for the free practice of voting rights for all Americans.
Almost 24 hours after the polls closed along the East Coast, the race remains undecided, with votes still being counted in a number of states. The Trump campaign is already issuing challenges in several of them, where the vote is too close to call.
“My word right now that I’m living with is patience. The process is working. Either way, we all need healing — within ourselves and between ourselves,” said the Rev. John Dorhauer, general minister and president. “May a spirit of love prevail. And may we never waver from our mission in the United Church of Christ: to build a just world for all. So much of the justice we have long struggled for us in danger of being dismantled. So we wait for the election results and we continue to heal from the wounds of our injustice and division and we march on towards justice. Ever and always.”
‘Take a lot of deep breaths’
“Democracy takes time and it’s worth waiting for. Behind every vote is a person and a story that deserves to be heard,” said Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC’s office in Washington, D.C. “People went to great lengths during a pandemic to vote and they have amazing stories about why. As long as it takes, we need to count every vote. We wait together, being present with each other.”
As part of the Our Faith, Our Vote campaign, Sorensen and her staff have been sharing that message long before the election season. It’s about the power of the people, which she said the country will have to tap, “to figure out a way forward,” no matter who wins the election.
“We may need to take a lot of deep breaths in the coming days,” said Edith Guffey, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference Minister. “No matter the outcome of the election we will still be a divided country. Yet we are a church of diverse people where all are welcome. That can’t just be rhetoric. Let’s be patient with each other and gentle with our words, so we don’t inadvertently add to heightening tensions. Let’s be peacemakers with listening ears and caring hearts. Let’s remember we are all children of the living God.”
‘No easy path forward’
“There is no easy path forward,” said the Rev. Bill Lyons, Southwest Conference Minister. “There is no ‘let’s just all get along’ solution to what has happened in this nation. We need to let go of the mistaken notions that sharing means losing.
“May the example of the saints and martyrs who championed justice before us inspire us, may our love for You and for our families, for our children, for our land and for our neighbors, guide us into the choices required to enjoy a preferred shared future in which everyone lives their best possible life.”
The Rev. Roberto Ochoa, UCC associate for congregations of color/ethic identified congregations, volunteered as a poll worker in his hometown of Worcester, Mass. He reported at 6 a.m., in the snow, and said he was gratified to see how many young people and people of color came to vote.
As a bilingual speaker, Ochoa was called upon several times to help with ballot procedural instructions. He said saw a large number of U.S. immigrant voters and assisted “an Albanian gentleman who wanted help explaining to his mother. As I went through the voting steps in English, he turned to explain it to his mother in their native tongue.”
Work with the vulnerable will continue
The Rev. Rebecca Turner, pastor of Christ Church UCC in Maplewood, Mo., answered a call by Missouri Faith Voices on Tuesday, taking a four–hour shift as a poll chaplain. She was stationed outside a school building, with masks and snacks and a sign about election protection. She said she passed out a couple masks, got thumbs up from several voters as they emerged from the polling place and heard “lots of thank you’s for being here and helping this to go well.”
But she knows more difficult work lies ahead.
“As I have been telling my congregation for weeks, the outcome doesn’t change our mission — we don’t sit and wait. We do what we are called to do,” she said. “The vulnerable have been vulnerable through all kinds of presidencies, so our work continues. Hope is a long–term commitment. We can’t be tossed with the tides.”
If Trump is reelected, she said, “we have to deal with the reality of excessive racism our siblings have long lived with.”
Vigil, reflection, how-to webinars
The Pacific Northwest Conference, “as we struggle through this day,” is inviting clergy to participate in a sunset vigil tonight. The Southeast Conference is holding a “Responding to the Election” webinar on Nov. 5 for clergy will need to provide spiritual leadership after the election. “This is an opportunity,” the website reads, “to reflect together on how we might respond.”
On Wednesday, the Southern California Nevada Conference offered a “Pause and Reflection Day” webinar so that clergy could connect with colleagues and heal their spirits in this intentional time.
A UCC partner, Faith in Public Life, is offering two webinars on messaging and nonviolent civil action so advocates can prepare to be engage during post-election uncertainty.
- Media and Messaging Training for Faith Leaders,Thursday, Nov. 5, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET: Counter misinformation. Learn clear and up-to-date guidance and messaging tips for you to talk with the media and your congregation.
- Nonviolent Civil Action and De-escalation Best Practices, Friday, Nov. 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. ET: Advice from expert organizers on how people of faith can show up faithfully and effectively in the midst of post-election uncertainty. Hear what it takes to engage in direct action safely — including de-escalation, digital security and your rights as a protester.
Late Wednesday afternoon, acknowledging that 150 million people voted in this election, former Vice-President Joe Biden said, “Here the people rule. To make progress, we need stop treating our opponents as enemies.”
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