Clergy Urge Church Members to Pray for Obama

The Rev. Randy Cordell didn’t support Barack Obama, and he disagrees with the president-elect on a number of social issues. Still, the pastor of Lakeshore Christian Church in Antioch has asked God to bless the president-elect.

“We are citizens of the United States,” Cordell said. “We need to be praying for him, and his family, that God will be working through them.”
Cordell and a number of Nashville ministers say their congregations are obligated to pray for the new president even if they didn’t vote for him and even if they don’t agree with his political views. That’s the message some ministers conveyed to their congregations this past weekend.
Obama’s victory troubled many Christian conservatives who fear that the president-elect will pursue a liberal agenda on social issues like abortion and same-sex unions that they believe are unbiblical.
“I don’t believe that a man who has Barack Obama’s values is in line with God’s plan,” said Maury Davis, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Madison.
Davis said he has been counseling conservative church members upset with the election’s outcome. But Davis, a McCain supporter, said Christians should leave it in God’s hands and ask God to change the president-elect’s liberal views.
Evangelical churches like Cornerstone, where the pastor is an outspoken conservative, see abortion and same-sex relations as non-negotiable.
Won’t Compromise
Ed Gilbreath, who is an African-American and author of Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity, said that many of his white evangelical friends did not have any qualms about voting for an African-American candidate.
In fact, he said, many of them wanted to vote for Obama.
However, they were conflicted because of Obama’s view on abortion, and they could not compromise on that issue.
Still, Gilbreath said, he has been concerned by the reaction to Obama’s victory.
Conservative evangelist James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, told his radio audience he was bereft after the election.
“I am in the midst of a grieving process at this time,” he said, adding that, “I am not grieving over Barack Obama’s victory, but over the loss of things that I’ve fought for 35 years.”
Gilbreath wonders if evangelicals have become too tied to one political party.
“It makes you wonder what our Christian leaders have been putting their faith in,” Gilbreath said. “Is it just politics, in order to have human power, or it is something bigger?”
In denominations where there’s more political diversity, preachers had to refocus church members on their common faith and not the election.
The Rev. Thomas McKenzie, pastor of Church of the Redeemer, an Anglican congregation in Oak Hill, said that the contentious campaign sometimes divided members.
“We’ve had our share of tensions and some disagreements, and we’ve had to work through those,” he said. “What I have stressed is that we need to have civil discussion.”
Since the election, he has talked to McCain and Obama supporters.
“Some people on the Republican side, I had to talk with them about the anxiety over Senator Obama,” he said. “The people on the Democratic side, I had to temper their expectations.”
McKenzie said he steers clear of taking sides in elections, but he did intervene when a church member sent him an e-mail insinuating that Obama was the Anti-Christ.
That kind of fear-based campaigning crossed a line, he said.
“If you are trying to motivate your church by fear, that is not the gospel,” he said.
A New Beginning
At Jefferson Street Baptist Church, the Rev. James Thomas began praying for Obama on election night.
“We celebrated that night with praise and worship and testimony,” he said. “We saw a new beginning for America.”
Still, Thomas could sympathize with those who are disappointed with the election, because in 2000 and 2004 he voted for the candidate who lost.
That didn’t stop him from praying for President Bush over the past eight years.
“I always pray for my presidents,” he said. “I pray for America, and I pray for our state.”
The Rev. H. Bruce Maxwell, pastor of Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, has also prayed for President Bush over the past eight years. And he has now begun praying for Obama.
But he said he was perplexed over why so many evangelicals voted for McCain, whose first marriage ended in divorce, instead of voting for Obama, who appears to be a dedicated family man.
“He looks to be a man who really loves his wife, and who loves his children,” Maxwell said. “That’s the kind of values we as the Christian community want to support and lift up.”
For some ministers, the election was a chance to remind their congregation of the big picture, that they believe God is in control, no matter what happens.
The Rev. Johnny Hunt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that Baptists are commanded by the Bible to pray for the new president, and trust in God’s sovereignty.
“We still believe that God’s will was done,” he said.
Source: AP
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