EHF’s Congregational Engagement team reached out to congregations who attended our Vote Faithfully training and participated in the Episcopal Church Vote Faithfully campaign of civic engagement to share their stories. St. Matthew’s in Austin was one of the congregations who responded and offered to share their experience reaching out to voters.
Members of our congregation woke up one morning a few months ago and saw the November 3 election deadline looming like the burning bush that startled Moses. A memorable sermon drew the image of not only seeing our burning bushes, but realizing – like Moses – that they are calls to wake up and “do something.” A cadre of member-activists saw “voter-engagement outreach” in the flames and responded to the call with action.
We were inspired by the Episcopal Church’s promotion for VOTE FAITHFULLY and all the accompanying messages from bishops, priests, laity, and EHF who prayerfully promoted everyone’s participation in the elections. Our calling, as we saw it, was to find the pockets of people we could reach with messages encouraging voter registration and offering assistance with procedures and transportation.
The main cohorts we found included all St. Matthew’s members, St. Matthew’s seniors, people who lined up across the street at our neighbor Westover Church of Christ for a food distribution, and an extensive directory of Workers’ Defense Project supporters.
We reached St. Matthew’s 1,200+ membership with exhortations in the regular weekly email. St. Matthew’s 160 members in a seniors’ directory were contacted by email, postal mail, and telephone according to individuals’ preferences. Church members who dropped off their annual pledges at a drive-in pledge event were also given flyers. We used some shoe leather in the Westover Church parking lot handing out flyers about the census and voting car-by-car (Six Saturdays, probably 900 families), then before Election Day, putting vote flyers (English and Spanish) in the food bags. Emails went to 600 people involved in the Workers’ Defense Project with attached flyers and requests that they join us to copy and distribute information in their own neighborhoods.
St. Matthew’s workers are very thankful for the Vote Faithfully workshop, the bulletins, and the flyers we received from EHF. We used them at every turn.