In a contentious election season, Mt. Bethel votes for prayer


     If nothing else during the 2012 election season, there is one area in which everyone can agree: It has been a rancorous, often angry contest. From both sides of the political aisle, there has been no shortage of heated rhetoric, harsh words and contentious debate.
While most churches have deliberately avoided becoming embroiled in the political divide of 2012, Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta has taken a more proactive stance. The church is opening its doors to help people wrestle through their political decisions.
“It is important for the church to be aware of what is going on outside the church if we are going to be relevant,” said Associate Pastor Kelly Brumbeloe. “And whether we acknowledge it or not, politics matter. We cannot just pretend it is not happening or it does not matter.”
But while Mt. Bethel has been willing to immerse itself into the middle of a contentious election, it is not advocating a party or a candidate, but prayer. Lots of prayer.
“(Senior Pastor) Randy Mickler brought up the idea while we were on a staff retreat,” Brumbeloe said. “He said he wanted us to have a prayer vigil in advance of the election. We are not telling people who to vote for. We are encouraging people to be in prayer and vote for people based on our common Christian values.”
Brumbeloe was tasked with helping to coordinate the prayer vigil, which included six straight two-hour gatherings in the chapel in the week leading up to the election. Each prayer session was led by a different associate pastor.
The final session, Monday, Nov. 5, will be a communion service led by the Rev. Mickler in the church sanctuary. Election Day is Nov. 6.
“We think it is appropriate for us to come together and celebrate Holy Communion on that last evening before the election,” Brumbeloe said. “We seek to recognize Christ not just as leader in our lives and in our churches but in the world as well.”
Brumbeloe said the prayer vigil was intended for the community as a whole and not just for members of Mt. Bethel.
In preparation for the vigil, Associate Pastor Glenn Ray prepared a special guide, using Micah 3 as a model: to pray for our leaders; pray for our pastors; pray for people in this country.
“I have spent more than 45 years in the ministry and I cannot remember an election where people seemed so concerned about what was going to happen,” Ray said.