Election Day and the Church
Campbell UMC in Springfield had a very serene Election Day communion service from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. It began with a prelude of Forward Through the Ages on the grand piano, with a little of My Country Tis of Thee mixed in. This was followed by a silent time of reflection and a soloist singing Kyrie.
Next, readings about the election were then interspersed with Are We Yet Alive? Scripture was read from Ephesians 4: 1-8, 11-16 and John 3: 1-21.
Rev. Andy Bryan gave a homily, telling about his voting experience that day and having pleasant conversations with people while standing in line, knowing they were voting for different candidates.
“People are people, and they care about each other a lot and want what’s best for each other,” Bryan said.
Bryan mentioned an image that had been circulating on social media of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which said, “Both are created in the image of God.” He went on say how just being in the room together that night for communion makes a announcement to the world about what’s really important – love, grace, justice and peace. When the service came to a close at the same time that the polls closed, he said, “Thus ends the campaign of 2016,” and people cheered.
Rather than having a special worship service, many churches across the conference offered come-and-go communion all day on Election Day, including First UMC St. Charles, Northern Blvd. UMC, Nelson Memorial UMC in East Prairie, and Country Club UMC. Some other churches opted to have their sanctuaries open for prayer, including Community UMC in Columbia, Wesley UMC in Springfield and Marceline UMC.
Some churches didn’t wait for Election Day. Clinton UMC had a Pre-Election Prayer Service the day before the election. They also set up the chapel for personal prayer all day on Monday and Tuesday, and on Wednesday they hosted a Post-Election Prayer Service to pray for the nation as people move forward after the election.
Huffman Memorial offered three opportunities the day after the election. They had Common-Unity prayer and communion services on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., Noon and 7:00 p.m.
Many churches were directly involved in the election, serving as polling places. Transformation UMC in House Springs provided doughnuts and coffee for the poll workers. Webster United Methodist and Royal Heights UMC in Joplin served homemade cookies and beverages to those who came to vote. St. Mark's in Independence had light snacks for workers and voters, and a supervised children's area with coloring sheets and activities for voters with young children. Their sanctuary was open for prayer and reflection.
Arlington UMC in Bridgeton also provided snacks to voters and had its sanctuary open, and was recognized for the hospitality. Channel 5 in St. Louis sent a reporter to the church to interview people in line, and he asked Rev. Barbara Phifer about the hospitality being offered.
“He told me that our hospitality has made his day,” Phifer said. “He said it is probably the best thing that will happen to him today.”
The people who were lined up at the door to vote at 5:30 a.m. were also pleased with the church’s hospitality.
“Coffee, water and snacks break the ice,” Phifer said. “I did have several people ask for Belgian waffles and eggs over easy!”
First UMC of Maryville has a storied Election Day tradition of hospitality. Since 1894, the church (then First Methodist Episcopal Church) has had an Election Day Bazaar held by the United Methodist Women (originally Women’s Foreign Missionary Society, and later Women’s Society for Christian Service).
“Beyond its role in providing a means of raising money for mission, the bazaar brings together people of diverse backgrounds and political persuasions and has them ‘put their feet under the same table’,” said Rev. Scott Moon. They also had their chapel open for prayer.