Election Day Communion: Churches Bringing Unity to Politics

Election Day Communion: Churches Bringing Unity to Politics

October 17, 2016 by

When Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine at the Last Supper, he interacted with a group of contentious and divided disciples. They’d recently finished arguing about who was the greatest and were headed into a squabble about which of them would betray Jesus.

The disciples lacked unity of mind and spirit during that final meal. They were jealous, uncertain and fearful. They couldn’t comprehend a master and teacher who washed their feet, who said he would die.

Our role is to bring people together even as we head to the polls to cast our ballots.

Neither do we most of the time. We easily forget who Jesus is and who we are in him. We debate and divide over many things: murals in the nursery, curtains for the baptistery, styles of worship, clothing, race and, yes, politics.

We see the division everywhere. The news covers stories of people getting into fights with family, friends and coworkers. Our Facebook feeds fill with personal vitriol and trending topics. People tear down signs and even bumper stickers. How can churches have a voice in the midst of all this political rancor?

The tension hangs in the air, hungering for the slightest spark to ignite it. And it’s into this climate that we, like the founding pastors of Election Day Communion, must speak. Jesus calls us to “[diligently] preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3, NASB). Our role is to bring people together even as we head to the polls to cast our ballots.

Election Day Communion Emphasizes Kinship in Christ

Jason Boone, who facilitates Election Day Communion, says the first one arose during the heated 2012 electoral season. Three pastors, including Boone, witnessed how their church members were taking sides and defining themselves by political party labels rather than their identities in Jesus.

“We saw our congregations beginning to act like who they were was defined by who they voted for,” says Boone. “That’s not who we are at all. We’re made Imago Dei, in the image of God.

“We can disagree over politics, but we have to lean into our underlying kinship and remember who we are,” says Boone. “It was then that we talked about hosting an Election Day communion. Once we had the idea, it was a moment of ‘well, obviously, we need to do this.’”

Our primary concern is being the church and reminding our parishioners of what matters and who we are.

Election Day Communion Grows in 2016

What Boone and the other pastors couldn’t have predicted was the almost viral growth of the movement.

“Once we announced the idea to our congregations, it spread,” says Boone. “We probably had well over 900 known churches participate that first year.”

The number could grow this year. Boone expects it will. “We’ll see more churches sign up as we get closer to Election Day,” he says. “But we also know that a lot of churches are running with the idea on their own, and that’s really what we want.

“The numbers don’t matter so much to us as does the continued growth. Our site will essentially become a home base for resources and other materials. We’ll continue using social media, too, to grow the movement and the community.”

Communion AND Politics, not Communion OR Politics, Leads to Change

The founding pastors also hope churches will practice communion in their communities throughout the year, not only during national elections (similar to Ashes to Go for Ash Wednesday). “We’d love to see Election Day Communion incorporated into local communities,” Boone says. “We want churches to view communion as a reminder of who we are in all circumstances, from local elections and school bond campaigns to other sensitive issues.”

The pastors also want churches to be intentional with communion and to use it to create unity even as they encourage civic engagement. “We got pushback in 2012 from some individuals,” explains Boone. “They thought we were encouraging an either/or mentality—either people took communion or they voted.

“That’s not how we meant communion then, and it’s not how we mean it now. Politics matter. People should be invested in them because politics affect policies, and policies affect every one of us.

“Our primary concern, though, is being the church and reminding our parishioners of what matters and who we are. We’re a body of believers, supporting one another and building each other up.”

And communion is a reminder of that body—the body we are in Christ, and the body that was broken for us. It prompts us, if only for a moment, to push past the divisions and to re-center on what unites us. We are one in Christ, always, no matter whom we vote for on November 8.

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Erin Feldman


Erin Feldman is a content writer, editor, and strategist based in Austin, Texas. Besides writing to pay the bills, she writes for fun (poetry and essays) and draws. She volunteered with Creative Missions in 2016 and 2017 and serves as an assistant editor for Church Marketing Sucks.
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