From the Bishop

I am writing this column on Monday, November 3, 2008, so I do not know who will be elected as the new President of the United States. I have already voted by absentee ballot (yes, I did finally receive my ballot in the mail), but of course it would be inappropriate for me to share the name of the person for whom I voted. As a clergy person and in particular as a bishop of the church, I believe it is inappropriate for me to give a public endorsement to any candidate.

However, I do believe that it is important for me to pray for our new President, and I write this column asking you to do the same. No matter whether it is President McCain or President Obama, our new President will need our prayerful support. Sometimes in the midst of heated campaigns, we Americans tend to forget what an amazing process we have in our elections. I have visited many countries - 21 so far - and I have talked with many people from around the world. Those visits remind me what a wonderful thing it is that we in the U.S. have a peaceful transfer of power in our governments. Yes, our campaigns get ugly, and, yes, there are sometimes lawsuits about voter fraud or demands for recounts, but eventually we always have a peaceful change from one elected leader to the new elected leader. No armies in the streets, no military coup and no real fighting - just democracy in action. I am grateful to live in a nation where this is possible, normal and expected. And I pray this year will be no different, that we will have a peaceful transition of elected leaders.

Even more, I pray that we as a nation can begin to heal from some of the wounds and divisions caused by this election. I believe that part of the downturn of our economy is due to this election process in which we endure months of candidates from both parties telling us what is wrong with our country. After the election, it is time to move forward, to heal and to be engaged in the ways that lead to peace. So, I pray for our new President.

In the Council of Bishops meeting today, we all signed Bibles that will be presented to the new President and Vice-President. This is a tradition which started with President George Washington, and has continued with each President. The bishops of The United Methodist Church send a delegation to the White House to greet the newly elected President, to offer prayers and give the gift of these signed Bibles. It is our small way of saying that we join with all U.S. citizens to pray for our leaders.

I don't know who will be our new President, but I invite you to join me in praying for our new President and in praying for all of our elected leaders. Let God's peace prevail, here in the United States and around the world. So be it.

Bishop Michael J. Coyner
Indiana Conference of
The United Methodist Church
"Making a Difference in Indiana …
and around the world"