How Did Your Church Handle Obama’s Election?

This morning at the First Unitarian Congregation of Waterloo, the minister opened joys and concerns with a preface.  She said that this was a momentous week and that many people were understandably very happy.  At the same time, she said that there are people of many political orientations in the congregation, and that we need be to respectful.  She then lit the first candle, “for political reconciliation and cooperation.”  This seemed to set the tone for the morning, and the subsequent joys and concerns were almost all personal, rather than political (one gentleman made an oblique reference to being happy about the election).

How did you church handle it?  Did people get up during joys and concerns and proclaim their joy over Obama, or anger/heartbreak over Proposition 8 in California (or vice versa)?  Did your minister make an attempt to head-off potential politicization of the candles, or did he get the party started with an ode to the president-elect?  Did you get up and say something related to the election, or did you feel motivated but decide to remain in your seat?



Filed under Unitarian-Universalism

11 responses to “How Did Your Church Handle Obama’s Election?

  1. I don’t know how my chuch handled it. I didn’t go to church this morning because quite frankly, I didn’t want to hear it.

  2. Transient and Permanent

    That’s a valid response to the question, Joel: some members of your church handled it by avoiding church altogether. I wonder how widespread this reaction was.

    Hope you at least enjoyed your morning at home.

  3. serenityhome

    I had noticed that there were many people absent this morning and wondered if they like Joel, simply didn’t want to hear it. I had prepped the worship associate ahead of time of my concerns and when he introduced joys and concerns, he did so by reminding people to be worshipful. We actually had no one during this time to express any political joy or concern.

    My sermon was, however, influenced by the events of the election. It was entitled: Blessing as Spiritual Practice and it examined the acts of justice making as being a spiritual practice to bring about blessing. I highlighted the events of 1965 that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act which enabled this historic election to take place.

    I hope I was able to offer this sermon in a manner that also respected those who may have voted differently. You may read the sermon at my Blog site: and make your own judgments on how well I did this.

  4. aimeewrites

    Our minister, at the beginning of meditation, first called our attention to Veterans’ Day and reminded us of the sacrifices of our fighting men and women. He then commented on the historical nature and outcome of the election and led us in positive, supportive thoughts/prayers for our President Elect.

    After joys and concerns, however, he ended the meditation section in a unique manner…with a big, loud “Hip hip hooray!” Lots of applause and tears. 🙂

    I haven’t decided how I’m going to approach the Sunday Reflection on my blog this week…but I think this will probably be in there.

  5. It didn’t come up. It was our Veteran’s day service. It came up at the social justice meeting and I’m prepared to talk politics with anyone but if it looks like a debate people shy off. I rarely talk politics in Church (unlike blogs) and it is too much of shock I think for some to talk about the election and realize someone didn’t vote for Obama, and believes Obama has some nasty associations in his past in Chicago and could take the country down a very bad path (although it’s really not clear which Obama is goint to Washington…he is many things).

    Surprizing thing were some comments in SJ of people waiting for Obama to tell them what to do… I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.

    Also amazing to see so many suburbanites unfamiliar with Chicago City politics, Cook County Politics, Rahm Emanuel and the Hispanic Demorcratic Organization (with nary a hispanic), Rahm’s book, etc… strange to see these gentle souls so close to the city who’ve never worked a ward or had much to do with Regular Organization politics… I think there in for a bit of shock. Especially when last week I had talked with happy Democrats outlining what they expected to get out of Washington.. i.e. jobs, contracts, bailouts… they certainly weren’t waiting for an email from BHO about coming together.

  6. I didn’t go to church this morning because I wasn’t feeling so hot. I’m usually in the nursery all morning anyway so I don’t know what happens up there in the sanctuary.

    I did take a conflict resolution workshop over the weekend sponsored by our district, and was careful to conceal who I supported – which made everyone there automatically assume it was McCain. (It was Obama, but I wanted people to focus on the issues I encountered during the campaign and not the ideologies). I can’t imagine how annoying it would be for a conservative in our religion. We did say that everyone was happy discussing Obama, but as soon as you brought up another candidate people said ‘Churches can’t sponsor candidates’ and used that as a reason to silence discussion.

  7. Patrick McLaughlin

    Mine handled it superbly.

    (Joys and Concerns is a usually, but not always, event in our services–one which some of us know will have to go as we grow more–and it was simply dealt with by the minister holding a moment for people to hold the joys and sorrows they felt and those they knew others did…)

    The recognition that no matter what, this was a momentous election, was central. McCain’s gracious speech acknowledging Obama’s victory was held up. The fact that a black American was elected–something many of us, white and not-white had doubted could happen–was held up. That slow, painful, complicated and nuanced as it has been and is, progress of a sort has happened. That there is vast pain and conflict and tension around Prop 8 was held up… and that we were not done with it, that the issue of equality was one that we would be coming back to again and again and again….

    There were visitors–first time visitors–who were McCain supporters who spoke with the minister at length to tell her how much they appreciated what was said, how it was said, and the overall tone. They’ll be back, too. The people who are new within the last 90 days and whose lives–as a family with three teens–has revolved around campaigning against Prop 8 felt embraced and comforted. They’ll be joining very soon.

    I’m sorry that you felt you had to stay away, Joel. There was no triumphalism, there was no partisan, political we won-ism. There was simply a worship service which was about what had happened, and which focused on the real issue–which was the title of the service–“What Next?”

    We sang at least twice as many hymns as usual, and there was music from the congregation’s ensemble. Music, hymns, were a good thing. The sermon, as such, was short and broken into parts to address issues of hope, of concern, of justice… of needing to look forward and that the burden of doing what needs doing isn’t Obama’s; it’s ours.

  8. I’m sure that was true at your congregation, Patrick. It was probably true of mine, even though it was a guest speaker today- at least from the pulpit, anyway. Maybe. The reaction might have been as muted as that of Rev. Whitfield, in his blog today- “It’s true. The forces of hope and goodness in the world are stronger than fear. Our Tuesday election of our first African-American president, a person of integrity proves it.” But the coffee hour would not have been so measured in its reaction. Some of my friends have learned, for the first time in their adult lives, what it means to truly worship something.

  9. Judy Z.

    Our congregation has been dealing with politicization of joys & cares since mid-September, prompted by an incident at Joys and Cares that was rather incendiary. The next Sunday our minister addressed that incident at Joys and Cares, and offered words that reminded us of our political differences, and our faith calls usto honor and respect each other, and create space for us all to be in fellowship together. She was superb. The worship associates at our lay led services in October reinforced that message. Joys and Cares have remained worshipful – including today. Other than a mention of the historical import of the presidential election this morning, and a call for us to work together no matter who or what we supported at the national and local levels during Opening Words, hat was it for our church. No other mention was made of the election.

    I’m rather glad there was a flare up at Joys and Cares prior to the final lap of the election cycle. It brought about a correction for us. There had been a good sized ripple in the congregation started by members with Republican affiliation and military service. Seems that those folks felt silenced, and two even stopped attending Sunday Service because of the climate. Now I see them back again, since our minister set the tone in mid-September. Bravo.

  10. I did get a secret chuckle at our SJ meeting which began with all refusing to volunteer to talk minutes; which was immediately followed by discussion on how Obama would bring everyone together in a call to service along the lines of JFK.

    If the call includes a demand to take minutes, Obama may be hard pressed for volunteers from my Church.

  11. Here’s how the UUA handled it- from the official website, the “Inspired faith, effective action” blog:
    “The staff of the Washington Office, Kat, Lisa, Grace, Alex, Alida, and I, met each other at 10:30 this morning in front of the White House for our weekly theological reflection. … We opened with words from…” How do you imagine that sentence ended? How would ANY church group, meeting for their weekly theological reflection, end that sentence? “…Barack Obama’s Springfield speech when he announced his candidacy.”, of course! That’s what theology IS to the UUA- a political speech. Barack forbid there should be any theos in your theology.

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