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Photo by Diane Degnan, United Methodist Communications

Communion on Election Day can make a statement

Polly House
November-December 2016

In 2012, 900 churches of different denominations across the United States observed Election Day Communion.

Participating churches opened their doors and decided to make a statement — not about candidates, political parties or agendas, but acknowledging that true hope is found in Christ and participating in holy acts of union and reconciliation.

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This year, planners hope people will gather at the Lord's table in even more churches on the evening of Nov. 8.

The Rev. Michael Scarlett, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Pocatello, Idaho, is proud to have his church host the community for Election Day Communion.

"We are participating because, in the words of (Christian activist and author) Shane Claiborne, we're not called to follow an elephant or a donkey — we're called to follow the slaughtered lamb," he said. "We're inviting churches in our community to join with us as we gather to proclaim our allegiance to Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God."

In Idaho, the polls are open until 8 p.m., but the congregation will gather at 7 p.m. to pray for political leaders and for the unity of the church and unity in a world that seeks to divide, separate and label.

"When we respond to the good news of Christ as the King of kings and the Lord of lords in coming to the table, Christ pours his healing grace into us as he gives us himself in bread and cup," Scarlett said. "We are in continual need of healing, and, particularly on this night, we need healing from our division. Because we are leaning into the kingdom of God, which doesn't see through red or blue lenses of particular political parties, we're learning what it means to be citizens who confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.'"

St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Odessa, Delaware, will also have communion on election night. The Rev. Karin Tunnell, pastor, said, "My prayer has always been that celebrating Holy Communion is a way for all of us, regardless of our background, experience, education, status, cultural background, wealth or lack of it, political views or theological views, to come together. Jesus welcomes us all to the table regardless of political affiliation. It is the ritual symbol that Christ has given us that we are loved."

Polly Housenis a freelance writer and editor currently serving as editorial assistant for Interpreter. She is based in Nashville, Tennessee.