The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has designated September 20 as a time for a special emphasis on what it means to be a “Christian and Citizen.” This page provides ideas and materials for recognizing and reflecting on this theme in worship.
Resources for Christian and Citizen Sunday on Voting Rights/Voter Education/Fighting Voter Suppression
Mission Engagement and Support, in conjunction with the Office of Public Witness, wants congregations to be prepared for Christian and Citizen Sunday, September 20. It is the duty of every person to exercise their right to vote. On Christian and Citizen Sunday, Presbyterians are reminded that both Jesus and John Calvin placed a significant emphasis on the role of civic engagement as central to our faith. Every presbytery and congregation has received a letter in English, Spanish, or Korean from the Reverend Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, a list of resources on voting rights and fighting voter suppression, and a copy of the newly updated pamphlet, Seeking to Be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement. As we approach an important election, we hope pastors, elders, and members will find this information helpful and useful during these challenging times.
The book of Ephesians, with its strong emphasis on the themes of unity and reconciliation in Christ and citizenship with the saints in the household of God, is a particularly appropriate resource for reflection and proclamation at the time of an election.
In Baptism, we are made one with Christ and with one another in Christ’s body; we proclaim that our divisions (Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female) are dissolved by the grace of God; we renounce sin and evil and declare our allegiance to realm of God, which transcends and transforms all earthly powers.
At the Lord’s Supper, we give thanks for our redemption and enjoy communion with Christ and the whole company of the faithful; we are united to the church in every time and place by the power of the Holy Spirit; we receive a foretaste of the righteousness, justice, and peace of the reign of God.
Prayers from the Book of Common Worship
These prayers from the Book of Common Worship (WJKP, 2018) are appropriate for “Christian and Citizen Sunday” or the Sunday before Election Day: “At the Time of an Election,” “During a National Crisis,” “For Responsible Citizenship,” “For Government Leaders,” and “For State and Local Governments.”
A Eucharistic Prayer for Election Day
Click here to read a prayer appropriate for “Christian and Citizen Sunday,” the Sunday before Election Day, written by Sam Wells, Vicar at London’s St. Martin in the Fields and former Dean of the Chapel at Duke; and Abby Kocher.
A Service of Reconciliation
Especially appropriate for a contentious election, this liturgy for reconciliation includes a litany of confession with baptismal themes and a eucharistic prayer with an emphasis on unity.
Service for Justice and Peace
This Service for Justice and Peace from the Book of Common Worship (WJKP, 2018) is designed for use in a time of controversy or crisis, when people gather to pray for God’s justice and peace in the community, church, and world. Planners of worship will want to adapt and expand on these resources according to particular circumstances and concerns. The 2018 Book of Common Worship also includes guidelines for interreligious gatherings in times of celebration or conflict (see pages 638–639).
Excerpts from the Confession of Belhar
The Confession of Belhar, with its strong themes of unity, justice, and reconciliation in church and society, may be particularly appropriate at the time of an election. These excerpts from Call to Worship 49.1 are organized around the festivals and seasons of the Christian year, but may be used at other times in worship.
Hymn and Song Suggestions
See sections on “The Church” (295–326), “The Life of the Nations” (327–346), and “Justice and Reconciliation” (749–774) in Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal (WJKP, 2013).
Hymn for Election Day
“In Times of Great Decision” by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
“In Times of Great Decision” with original musical setting by RCA/PC(USA) pastor/composer John R. Kleinheksel
The Use of Flags in Church Sanctuaries
“Should a congregation display flags in its sanctuary?” This essay from Harold Daniels considers the theological and liturgical issues related to this question.
Theological Conversations: “Covenant Living in a Contractual World“
It might seem like there is no civil—let alone Christian—way to talk about the various dynamics at play in our American society given this current election cycle. Wes Avram, pastor/head of staff, Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, Scottsdale, Arizona, has written a thoughtful and timely article for reflection. Here, he focuses on the gift of covenant theology for Presbyterians, not only for us as a community and as disciples of Christ, but as a gift we can offer to society as well. As he notes, the issues we are facing will last long past this particular election. The questions at the end can serve as conversation starters, discussion questions, or questions for personal study.