Rev. Emily: “For the sake of all”

It was 2004, a big election year, and I had just graduated from Seminary. During a long search and call process, I threw myself into volunteering at Shattuck Ave United Methodist Church, a multiracial church proud of its after school program and free community dinner. In conversation with my pastor Staci Current, I expressed despair and outrage about voter discrimination that had occurred in Florida in 2000. Staci became reflective – recalling that she and her husband, who happened to be prominent African American church leaders in Oakland, also didn’t get to vote that day, instead spending an entire afternoon being redirected from one polling place to another until the clock ran out.

It dawned on us that voter rights were just as important where we lived as they should have been in the South. We were trained to register voters and began some heartbreaking conversations with citizens who had been so discouraged, even traumatized, by experiences trying to vote, they had given up on this right their parents had worked so hard to win just a generation earlier.

Dear friends, this continues to be true all over the United States. Churches should never make the mistake of getting into the business of partisanship or endorsing candidates. But we faithfully insist that our democracy depends on the participation and empowerment of all people. Our voice of hope is needed now as much as ever.

Mayflower is engaged in many campaigns with our partners for social and earth justice this fall – issues such as payday lending, education, gun violence, and clean energy. But the most urgent issue at stake in the coming months just may be voting itself. Make sure YOU are registered to vote. Have the conversation with the people closest to you about the importance of voting. Educate yourself about the experiences of those denied the right to vote. And stay tuned this fall for opportunities to turn out and encourage voters in the Metro so that, together, we can make a difference.

For the sake of the earth and all God’s children,
Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries