As divisive campaign rhetoric reaches fever-pitch on election day, a group of clergy in Kalispell is trying to reunite their communities by hosting a pair of interfaith vigils Wednesday.
The Post-Election Vigil for Restoration was borne out of what First Presbyterian Church Community Pastor Miriam Mauritzen calls a loss of love of neighbor.
"The tenor seems to be,' fear thy neighbor,'" Mauritzen says. "Fear if they have, you will have less. If they are blessed, you will not be blessed. And in order to be heard, you must be the loudest and you have to not only win the argument but thoroughly decimate whoever you’re in conversation with to where it’s not even a conversation. Our faith and our scriptures provide us a better way. There is a better way."
Mauritzen will be joined by leaders from Glacier Jewish Community B’nai Shalom, Stillwater Free Lutheran Church in West Valley, Columbia Falls United Methodist Church and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Kalispell.
Glenn Burfeind is a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Kalispell.
"I think in each of our own congregations we see this tension at work within families, within friendships and learning how to meet each other where we are at, honoring our own, whether it's faith system or political system, without judgment," Burfeind said. "And I think this offers the opportunity to do that."
The vigils will be held in the basement of the First Presbyterian church in a space without religious iconography. Mauritzen says they’ll center around a table, which she describes as a sacred space where community is built and relationships are fed.
"There'll be a candle that will already be lit with piano music playing in the background so that when they come to this place to reflect in silence and simplicity and brief meditations, they'll have space to listen and contemplate the restoration of that table; whether it be your home table or your table of faith or your co-workers table. And then we’ll also be contemplating if we can bare light back into our community, so those who find light, who find hope in the service, will light their individual candle that they can be bearers of light back out into the world at the end of the vigil."
Pastor Scott Thompson at Bethlehem Lutheran says historically, faith leaders of many religions have played the role of prophet. He says he sees that as his role now.
"Prophets are meant to be people who call out tough issues in society, who point to the wrongdoing but also celebrate the good," Tompson said.
Thompson says debate about our differences is an underpinning of our society. But he adds people should also remember that a greater wholeness supersedes those differences.
"This is not a gathering where we're going to split people up into different factions," Thompson said. "This is where the different factions are able to come together and and see each other as humans and individuals first."
The Post-Election Vigil for Restoration will be held in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church in Kalispell on November 7 at 7 a.m. and noon.