An election to pray for

2.5.2022 | Moderator, Church in Society, Prayer, Statements, Public Affairs

As Northern Ireland goes to the polls this Thursday with a choice of over 200 candidates to fill the Northern Ireland Assembly’s 90 seats, Presbyterians have been reminded of the responsibility of all citizens to vote and have been encouraged to prayerfully consider how to use their vote. Congregations have also been urged to ‘pray that those elected will serve with integrity, generosity of spirit and with a commitment to the common good.’

In a joint letter to all of its congregations in Northern Ireland, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Right Reverend Dr David Bruce, and the denomination’s Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev Trevor Gribben, encouraged ministers to make time during services ‘to pray for the candidates who are standing for election, those who will be working in the polling stations and count centres, and all those who will exercise their vote, especially those doing so for the first time.’

The two senior Presbyterians also encouraged members ‘to pray that those elected will serve with integrity, generosity of spirit and with a commitment to the common good,’ and ‘to exercise their right to vote as informed citizens’. To assist in this the Moderator and Clerk pointed to a number of Christian organisations that have prepared helpful resources to inform decision-making in the run up to the election.

These included CARE NI’s website, which details party policies, voting records of candidates who were MLAs in the last Assembly and a list of all candidates. The Evangelical Alliance NI’s ‘Use your vote, use your voice’ resource, includes a number of questions on social and topical issues, which could be asked of a candidate while out canvassing.

The Moderator and the Clerk also made the point in their correspondence with ministers that, ‘While it can be tempting to disengage with the local political process we are reminded in Scripture that the “authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:2) and are encouraged to make petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving for all people, including all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2).’

Speaking about the forthcoming election from Portugal, where he is on an overseas visit, Dr Bruce also said, “The Clerk and I concluded our letter by saying, ‘Casting a vote on polling day may, on the one hand, seem small and insignificant. On the other, it is a way of engaging and participating in the democratic process, and seeking the peace and prosperity of the places to which we have been called (Jeremiah 29:7).’”

The Moderator went on to say, “Being able to vote and participate in an unfettered way in a democratic process is a precious right, something that is denied to so many across the world. While we can vote for different candidates in this ‘1,2,3…’ PR election, we can all pray the same prayer in hope that when the last transfers are made and the final MLA is declared, the common good will be served. It is also my prayer that those elected, from whatever party, will serve in that same spirit.”

Photo: Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

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