Rev. Steven Shepard | Pastor at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church
Editor’s Note: Dr. Steven Shepard, Pastor St. Paul AME Church with the support of the church’s Social Action Committee is sponsoring a series of community Zoom sessions titled, “Let Your Voice Be Heard” to help inform the community about issues related to the 2020 Elections.
September is National Voting Rights Month, a month that our community ought to dedicate itself to voter registration, voter education and voter mobilization in every part of the country. It is imperative that we do all we can, while we can, to engage, empower, encourage, equip and energize our communities to not only register to vote, but to get their voice heard at the ballot box by showing up to VOTE.
I believe it is the role of the Black Church to foster and create the change that is needed. The African Methodist Episcopal Church has always been on the frontline in creating individual, systemic, and political change within our communities. I learned by watching and listening to my grandfather (The Late Rev. Dr. William M. Jacks) that pastors (especially those in the Black church and serving underserved communities) wield much influence in those communities and we must fill our members and community members with as much wisdom and knowledge as we can so they in turn can make the right choices to live better lives.
I thought it necessary to empower us, by giving people the opportunity to hear directly from those who are running for local office throughout the San Bernardino County Area. With violence running rampant, with homelessness on the rise, with communities of color suffering from institutional and systemic oppression; we must make the right choices based on policies and not just out of allegiance to a political party.
Hosea 4:6 reminds us that, “People are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The days of complaining are over, and we must start walking the sermons we preach from our pulpits. We must make our churches and communities better. Dr. Martin Luther King said once: “The church cannot be silent while mankind faces the threat of Nuclear annihilation,” and that the church must “be true to her mission.”
What’s Next – Through our Social Action Committee, we will continue to engage the community at-large to educate them on the propositions and measures that will be on the November 3 ballot. We will sponsor and co-sponsor online events that empower voters on how to track their ballot, where to vote or turn in their ballots and what to do when things are not right at their polling place. We are also encouraging everyone to take a selfie of themselves when they vote with the hashtag #MYVOTEMYVOICE and post it to the St. Paul AME Church San Bernardino Facebook Page.
GOOD TROUBLE – OUR VOTE IS OUR VOICE and our VOICE IS OUR VOTE!!