BIC U.S. congregations proclaim “ultimate allegiance to Christ” on Election Day
GRANTHAM, Pa. (november 16, 2012)—Several Brethren in Christ congregations across the U.S. participated in last week’s Election Day Communion, a nationwide event intended to build unity in Christ in the midst of political differences, according to event organizers.
BIC congregations in California, Delaware, Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin participated in the event by hosting communion services on the evening of Tuesday, November 6.
While all participating congregations shared event organizers’ common goal of getting Christians to set aside political differences and remember common spiritual bonds, each church cast their purpose in a different light.
“The [Election Day] Communion service . . . was very important for me and those who came to take part,” reported James Rainwater, pastor of Bethany Church (Thomas, Okla.), in a Facebook post. “It was an opportunity for us to realize that the real power in this world, which is the power to save, to transform, and to change, doesn’t rest in political parties or presidents. It rests alone in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”
Jessica Stenz, who attended the Election Day Communion service at New Vision BIC (Pewaukee, Wisc.), notes that the event’s emphasis on rejecting political polarization for the sake of unity in Christ was particularly meaningful in her context. “We [in Wisconsin] are an extremely divided state, politically, and people feel very strongly about whatever side of an issue they are on,” she shared in a post at the BIC Church’s Facebook page. “Our church (and other churches and friends we invited) particiated in this service as an invitation to remember that Jesus’ kingdom is above any party or country, and in Him we are one.”
Alan Claassen Thrush, who organized the Election Day Communion at Upland (Calif.) BIC, echoed Stenz’s sentiments. “As in many parts of the country, we witnessed a growing polarization along political party lines, even among church members,” he commented. “A call to the Lord’s Table is a call to lay aside all other ideas that invite our loyalty, and to remember that our true loyalty is to the King.”
At Upland, attendees sang songs that affirmed Christ’s lordship, including “This is my Father’s world” and Behold the Lamb,” and offered prayers for the nation, the world, and the Church. “We had very positive feedback from the service,” Claassen Thrush reported. “Some came not knowing what to expect; they left grateful that we focused on our commitment to Christ and our responsibility to love each other.”
In Dillsburg, Pa., several BIC congregations joined with other area churches from the Dillsburg Ministerium for an Election Day Communion event. The service was hosted by NewCreation BIC, and pastors from Dillsburg BIC and Cumberland Valley Church, among other area churches, led the gathering.
One attendee, Dulcimer Brubaker, of the Dillsburg congregation, felt “glad to attend this ecumenical gathering where we remembered our primary citizenship in the Kingdom of heaven and joined together on a day that bitterly divides our nation.”
At Circle of Hope (Philadelphia, Pa.), attendees sang this song as a way of remembering that the highest authority in this world rests with Jesus Christ:
I won’t put my hope in chariots or horses;
I won’t put my hope in them.
I won’t put my trust in their empty promise;
I won’t put my trust in them!
My trust and my pride is in the name of Jesus Christ,
Who takes the old and broke and makes it new.
I’ll put my hope in the one who saves us from all sin,
And to love is what he shows us to do.
The service also included opportunities for attendees to proclaim corporately their ultimate allegiance to Christ and his Kingdom, by reading scripture like 1 Peter 2:9: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
For Keith Miller, church planter at LifePath Church in Newark, Del., Election Day Communion offered “a chance to recommit ourselves to the idea that our kingdom is not like this world.” He added that “we choose to engage in this [election] season from a different perspective . . . because we’re not falling prey to the temptation to claim identity based on political affiliation.”
Miller’s congregation, which shares a meeting space with an Episcopal congregation, found the evening “really meaningful.” As he recalled, “There was an eerie peace about it, sitting in the basement having a cup of wine and a hunk of bread, reflecting on the hope we have in Jesus while the rest of the country was glued to their televisions in a frenzy.”
About Election Day Communion
More than 900 Christian congregations in all 50 states participated in Election Day Communion. The event was the brainchild of a Mennonite pastor, Mark Schloneger, who tried it in his Waynesboro, Va., church on Election Day in 2008.
According to the Boston Globe, which reported on the event, Schloneger wanted to invite other congregations around the U.S. to participate in a 2012 rendition. He invited another Mennonite pastor to help him develop a website and soon began inviting others to participate using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Event organizers’ central vision—for “the Church to be the Church on Election Day”—reflects several BIC Core Values, including Following Jesus, Belonging to the Community of Faith, Pursuing Peace, and Relying on God.
by Devin Manzullo-Thomas, BIC Communications staff writer