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“To everything there is a season ….” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Dear CME Family: Four years ago about this time, I wrote President-Elect Donald Trump to congratulate him on his election as the 45th President of the United States of America, and to pledge to pray for him. I had not voted for him, but believed then and now that it is right for Christians in our country to pray for and lift up our leaders. These have been four difficult years, watching a President who lacked, in my opinion, too little grace too many times. Often I have be troubled by his leadership, and I am relieved to see it coming to an end. Yet, he was elected, he still is our President today, and probably will be until January 20, 2021. And so, today/tonight I still pray for him. But I am grateful to acknowledge the President-Elect of these United States for our not-too-distant future, the one who is slated to become our 46th President on January 20, 2021 – Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. And I am equally grateful to acknowledge the Vice-President-Elect of these United States, Kamala Devi Harris, a Black woman, yes, but more specifically, a child of immigrants from Jamaican and India. I lift them to you in this writing to ask that you pray for this Presidential team (if I were in a Catholic Church, I would hear the priest pray this way: “We pray for our President-Elect, Joseph, and our Vice President-Elect, Kamala.”). Pray that God will anoint them with the grace and gifts and discernment for the days and decisions ahead of them. I also ask us as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church to remember five things at this propitious time: 1-Remember and teach that every vote counts. As “Election Day” became “Election Week,” some of us grew weary, waiting for the “official announcement.” Yet, I honestly became more and more grateful for the diligence and deliberateness of the process. I was grateful for secretaries of state and employees and volunteers of the offices in charge of counting ballots, and I was especially appreciative of John King of CNN who, after President Trump said, at about 3 in the morning of November 4th, that he was “leading” in Pennsylvania and that no more votes needed to be counted, responded with something like this: “This is an election. We must count ballots.” The process became long, yes, but the methodical ways in which each state counted its own ballots – for example, in one case, election day votes were counted first, absentee ballots second, military ballots and others from overseas third, and provisional ballots fourth – helped me hear that the intent was to make sure every ballot was counted. And now I have a new way of answering those who say, “My vote doesn’t count!” because this nation proved – in an election broadcast live for at least 5 days, that we are determined to count every vote. 2-Remember that our democracy cannot be taken for granted, nor does it work on auto pilot. We must take charge and help make it work. Georgians, we applaud you. We applaud you for taking note in 2018, when now Governor Brian Kemp, who was then in charge of elections as secretary of state, purged voter rolls and did many other things most of us would call voter suppression during his campaign against Stacey Abrams. It was one thing to call it “Unfair!” or express our anger; it proved another when you as citizens responded by organizing, by mounting voter registration campaigns and informing citizens of your State about what was going on, and by preparing for the next election. You, Georgia, by getting involved and organized, turned red Georgia blue. You should know, as CMEs, that one of the strongest leaders in Georgia is a member of the CME Church and a leader in both her local church and the Connection. She is Dr. Barbara C. Campbell, whose name you may recognize as the Connectional Laity Council President. She’s been a regular delegate to more than one Democratic National Convention and a leader in civic work in DeKalb County. Her local church is Shy Temple in Atlanta. Others of us – across the nation in many states – worked the polls, helped get persons to the polls, organized, planned our work, and worked our plans. You, too, are appreciated for the services you have rendered. No, democracy does not operate on auto pilot. It demands attention, intentionality, and commitment to work it. 3-Remember Joseph Biden’s example: Be yourself. Be authentic. Be the best you that you can be, and when your season comes, it will find you. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., was a candidate for President in 1988 and in 2008. In 1988, he lost the nomination to Michael Dukakis. In 2008, he lost the nomination to Barack Obama, but was tapped to become Vice President. Still, the environment of 2019 and 2020 led the same political party that had declined him the nomination for President twice to tap him to be their party’s nominee for 2020. People knew him. They knew his character. His record of faithfulness is long. His “season” found him. 4-Remember, too, these next four years, that there is a reason people turned to Donald Trump in 2016. There was dancing in the streets of many cities when the announcement Mr. Biden’s election was made on Saturday. People rejoiced! People jumped! People shouted! I saw some cry. There was relief in the air! But don’t forget that not everybody was relieved. Some were sad and disappointed. Don’t forget that President Trump in the 2016 campaign paid attention to people who felt ignored and looked over - manufacturing workers, coal miners, rural farmers – persons who “felt” looked down upon, even as “deplorables.” Don’t forget that we who are African Americans have also felt what they felt, that we also have felt overlooked, ignored, and maltreated. One irony of politics is that people continue to divide the very groups of people from each other whose similar circumstances would seem to call them together in unity for the whole. But if we forget those 70 million persons who voted for President Trump and fail to hear their needs as well as our own, we forget them at our own peril. 5-Remember and act, because President-Elect Biden needs our prayers and supportive actions. President-Elect Biden needs our prayers for his health and wisdom. He needs our actions as citizens to do the things that he brings to us as blueprints for a better nation (and those challenges we will hear no later than January 20, 2021), and he will need our “follow-ship” in these times of crises: an economic crisis in this recession; a health crisis in this pandemic; and a relationship crisis because of our divided nation. I look forward to the next four years. I pledge to pray for President-Elect Biden and support his efforts for our nation … as much as I can. “To everything there is a season ….” Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick

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