Jan has posted an interesting Friday Five:
Churches of different denominations are working towards having Consecration Sunday for tithing commitments to be made. As these are being planned in various churches, our local community is opening up national voting for early voters before Election Day. All this seems to be coming at the same time as we all ponder WHO to vote for!
So for today's Friday Five, share about your struggles about this time of church and/or political time of the U.S. nation: Think of five aspects of either or both that you want to bring up!
1. Episcopalians are fairly unaware of Consecration Sunday. Fall is always Stewardship time. And for the past few weeks we have had a short talk (dare an Episcopalian ever WITNESS?) from lay members of the parish about tithing or their own practice of giving. They have all been quite good and from all ages. I think we wind up this week. So there is not a specific date.
2. Since I am not the pastor, I don't call the shots re. politics. And since I am not of the majority party in my parish, I don't make too many political comments. I envy ( I know, I am a sinner) those rectors of decidedly one party parishes where they call pastors/priests because of their politics, but I have never been in parishes like that. I have always been in the minority party from my parishioners. That does not mean that I don't talk about politics. I talk about the commonweal--what serves the whole of the community. And if I get on my high horse (not uncommon) I always try to speak of the issues that are non-partisan. I can speak of the intransigency of Congress but not who I think is causing it. I DO preach on the need for all Christians to vote. It is part of our responsibility as citizens but NEVER do I support a candidate--not even when they are members of the parish. In my mind that would violate our 501(c) tax status.
3. I have often been the rector of parishes that are polling places. But I have not seen the kind of political pandering that goes on in this state just outside the door of the church. I was horrified to see trucks with big campaign signs and campaign signs littering the entrance to our parish parking lot for the primary races last spring. I was told that the precinct 'rented' the space so campaigners could pass out their literature as long as it was 50 ft. away. But TX always has to do it differently than anywhere else. I complained to the precinct election officer but she told me that TX law allowed for this. But I said that such campaigning could violate our 501(c) tax status. She just shrugged and said it was TEXAS law as if Federal tax code didn't mean much here. And come to think of it, I guess it probably doesn't!
4. I am appalled by those denominations that support specific candidates. In some Roman Catholic dioceses, priests encourage particular candidates because of their stand on abortion; some non-denominational churches will support a specific candidate because they are 'Christian' or support some specific platform that is in keeping with their political stance. I was surprised by our presiding bishop supporting a specific candidate, but she made it clear that she was speaking for herself rather than the Church. Most everyone in my parish knows what party I support.
5. I don't think that I personally must be non-partisan. But I do need to make my church a place where all political views are welcome. I still stand with the Elizabethan Settlement. I do not care to have a 'window into people's souls'. The Church needs to be a place where all are welcome, not just people who agree with me. In fact I think that church would be a very dull place if we could not dialog about how we come to political decision through the lens of the Gospel.