If Tuesday taught us anything, it’s that every American has different ways of dealing with election day stress. Some turned to family, some to alcohol-centered watch parties, some to ranting on Facebook and Twitter. For The Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Knoxville, the answer was prayer.
When they saw the stress their congregation was under as the world waited to see who would be the next president, the Reverends Cal Calhoun and Caroline Vogel hatched an idea. For half an hour on Tuesday night, before the polls closed and the obsessive CNN watching began, they would offer their congregation a place to come together and quietly pray for the nation.
“We’ve been listening to our parishioners, and people are worried and fearful and anxious. There’s just a lot of emotions floating around,” Vogel said of why they decided to have this service.
When some think of political prayer services, it calls to mind fervent vigils of conservative evangelicals praying for the election of one particular candidate. That was not the cast at Good Samaritan. There was very little discussion of candidates as the dozens in attendance slid into the pews. Instead, there were quiet greetings and expressions of nerves.
“We wanted to create a place for people to have a sacred space around something that’s making them feel anxious,” Vogel said.
The small crowd prayed for wisdom, understanding, tolerance, and perseverance in our nation. The atmosphere during the service was serene, and the only political propaganda in sight was the Tennessee-shaped “I voted” sticker still worn by Rt. Rev. George Young, bishop of East Tennessee.
After sharing communion, the parishioners greeted each other with smiles and optimism. When asked why this service might have been helpful in calming election night nerves, Vogel said “I think our spiritual life, and hopefully our faith, can ground us in a way that very few things can in the world.”
Attendees included church members and stressed-out citizens who were told about the service and wanted a place to unwind.
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