Editor’s note: Ahead of the presidential November election, Bread Blog is exploring faith and elections through the lens of different faith perspectives. The blog posts will be written by members of Bread’s church relations staff and friends of Bread for the World.
By Marco Grimaldo
I am often asked wherein the Presbyterian Church finds its call to engage in advocacy and elections. I love it when I get this question because I studied political science and public policy, and I can tell you that in the 114th Congress, there are 36 members who identify as Presbyterians.
I grew up Presbyterian and so did my parents, so I know that Rev. John Witherspoon was the only clergy to sign the Declaration of Independence and that James Madison modeled his view of government in part on the Presbyterian model.
But none of this really gets to the core of the question. Why should Presbyterians be involved in advocacy and elections?
The church I attend, Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C., has concluded that all things flow from the communion table and that we are nourished both physically and spiritually therein. The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (USA) eloquently describes what happens in Holy Communion. “Brought by the Holy Spirit into Christ’s presence, the Church eagerly expects and prays for the day when Christ shall come in glory and God be all in all. Nourished by this hope, the Church rises from the Table and is sent by the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God’s mission to the world, to proclaim the Gospel, to exercise compassion, to work for justice and peace until Christ’s Kingdom shall come at last” (emphasis mine). In short, the Church, (you and me) responds to the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ by serving others with compassion, justice, and peace.
Serving with compassion, justice, and peace means providing food to our hungry neighbors in the community but also lobbying to make sure they have help and opportunities to provide for themselves. It means volunteering in mission and pressing for U.S. investment in development assistance worldwide. And it also means challenging candidates for public office to say what they will do to end hunger in God’s world.
The next Congress and the next president will have the opportunity and responsibility of guiding us toward an end to hunger. I have always valued the fact that Presbyterians are part of a connectional Church. That is to say that we believe we are inextricably linked to our sisters and brothers in the Church and by extension to all of God’s children. Our unity is an act of God, and so we are compelled to live and work together, make choices together, and elect responsible leaders to serve the common good.
So the next time you have a chance to meet a member of Congress or a candidate for office, ask them what they will do to end hunger. Better yet, call or email them today and ask them to get back to you with an answer.
Be tenacious and speak up for those whose needs go unheard. At their best, elections are a tool to help our democracy work better. Let’s work together and vote to end hunger.
Marco Grimaldo is senior national associate for Latino engagement at Bread for the World.