The Future is Now
Whitney Houston’s hit 1985 cover of “Greatest Love of All” begins with a statement: “I believe that children are the future.” This maxim is a beloved refrain in the church. We love to say that our youth—really anyone else under 40—are the leaders of tomorrow who will one day change the world for the better. But the next phrase in the song speaks to what we should be doing in the present: “teach them well and let them lead the way.” This begs two questions: (1) what should the church be teaching young people and (2) how should we be letting them lead the way today in the present?
As the church, we should teach young people not only of the Good News of God’s steadfast and transformative love but that we are also called to faithful action in our public lives in response to that love. This includes our political lives as voters and civil servants. And it includes young people, whether they are of voting age or not. Our Faith, Our Vote provides resources to engage youth and young adults in our democratic process in ways that allow for them to be leaders and influencers in the here and now. It is up to us as church to encourage and equip them to be informed and active participants in our democracy.
So, how do we go about it?
There are many ways to be engaged as a young person and to engage young people, but the first step is to get informed of your state’s voting laws and procedures. The aftermath of the 2020 elections has led to many state legislatures passing new laws that make it harder, not only to exercise our right to vote, but also to help others to do the same. There is also misinformation circulating meant to confuse and discourage eligible voters from voting. Election Protection is a good resource to get accurate information about voter registration, absentee voting, and polling station locations for your state and district.
Once you have that information, check-in with the young people in your life that they are registered to vote if eligible and enlist them to check-in with their peers as well. You can check voter registration status using our tool. The UCC is also partnering with The Civics Center on The Class of 2022 Ready to Vote Challenge to get high school seniors registered to vote. They have a toolkit and workshops for students to register their peers. We also have resources for college students and youth to start their own voter registration and mobilization drives through their schools and churches on our website. For those who aren’t yet 18, you can still be a source of information by getting educated and educating others on pressing issues. Conversations with the people in our communities about local, state and national needs are just as integral to making change as marking a ballot.
This is only a sample of the ways for young people to make a difference in our world in this moment and time. Why put off for tomorrow what can be done today?
Thaddaeus Elliott is the Justice and Peace Policy Fellow for the UCC Washington D.C. Office
We want to hear from you! Would you like to share how you are engaging in the election process in your congregation or community? Email UCCTakeAction@ucc.org and share your story!
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