September 28, 2012 - For the next two weekends, more than 30 Philadelphia religious congregations affiliated with POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild), will conduct "Voter Sabbaths" - worship services that emphasize the importance of citizenship and that will include voter registration, information on photo identificiation requirements and getting signed commitments from the faithful that they will in fact vote on November 6th. This non-partisn effort is aimed at getting 100% election participation among POWER congregation members and is part of the national Let My People Vote campaign spurred by the PICO National Network, a coalition of more than 45 congregation-
"POWER sees itself as a prophetic voice on issues of justice in this city - including poverty, public education, treatment of immigrants" said Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of POWER and pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in the Oxford Circle neighborhood of Philadelphia. "But if we don't use that voice in the voting booth, few will hear us - that's why we are launching this civic engagement effort" he added.
The congregations conducting Voter Sabbaths this weekend and next run the denominational gamut and reflect the socio-economic diversity of the city - including numerous Protestant denominations, Roman Catholic parishes, Reform and Reconstructionist Synagogues and a Masjid, from Chestnut Hill to South Philadelphia, from Juniata Park to Mantua.
Voter Sabbaths will mark the beginning of a month of civic engagement work among these POWER congregations. Following the voter registration deadline on October 9th, these congregations will engage in canvassing in their respective neighborhoods to collect signed "voter commitment cards" and conduct "voter ID clinics" to ensure their members and neighbors have proper identification for voting in November. POWER will then run phone banks in late October and early November urging people to live up to their commitment and go to the polls on November 6th.
Rev. Melanie DuBouse, pastor of Evangel Chapel in North Philadelphia and POWER leader comments: "We understand that elected officials calculate how many active voters you represent and can mobilize. When we advocate for new jobs policies or improved schools in Philadelphia, we know we are being sized-up in that way. Our civic engagement work builds are credibility and our stature."
Congregations interested in participating in Voter Sabbaths or the Let My People Vote Campaign in general should contact POWER at 215-232-7697.