Churches in Austin used the day as an opportunity to offer radical hospitality to voters. By early morning on November 6, over 70 people were in line to vote at Memorial UMC in northeast Austin.
“We put out coloring pages for the kids and got chairs for everyone to sit in who couldn’t stand that long”, said Rev. Cynthia Kepler-Karrer.
By later in the afternoon the lines were still strong and United Methodist volunteers brought water, food, and snacks for the voters and their children. Down the road at Parker Lane UMC, more lines formed as people waited to vote and pastor Rev. Matt Edison was onsite to offer assistance to the polling workers who needed access to a copier and other supplies.
He reported over 1,100 people came to vote.
By Tuesday evening, Oak Hill UMC continued to receive voters; the humidity brought lots of mosquitoes and so volunteers handed out mosquito spray and refreshments to those waiting outside.
As one worker said, “The election results aren’t in yet but we’re going to go ahead and call the race for ‘the most cookies baked to hand out to voters’ for the Oak Hill UMW!” The church’s communication team also worked ahead of time to ensure information on mission projects and Christmas worship services were available for visitors.
Other United Methodist churches offered opportunities for prayer as a way for persons to find their center in God in the midst of a turbulent election season. Trinity Church in Austin advertised, “If you’d like to pray or meditate on Election Day, our sanctuary will be open Tuesday 9AM - 6PM. Come light a candle and hold voters and candidates in prayer.”
At First UMC, Austin; leaders planned a time of prayer the day after the election. It is advertised as a time of prayer for those elected and those celebrating, for those most impacted by the decisions, and for those disappointed.
In a pastoral letter to the congregation, Senior Pastor Rev. Taylor Fuerst wrote, “If you are angry or anxious, determined, hopeful, or just plain exhausted, God meets you today in the midst of turbulent times. Isaiah’s words are an anchor for me, and I hope they are for you, too: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior - Isaiah 43:2-3)”
Written by Capital District Superintendent Rev. Teresa Weborn