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Rev. Sara Gross Samuelson encourages us to keep an eye and an ear towards our common community rather than our divisions

Voting is an act of faith. It is about considering our neighbors' needs alongside our own.

My grandfather used to preach sermons in the late 1960s and early '70s about this and the importance of voting. I know, because I was gifted a stack of his handwritten sermons shortly after my own ordination as a pastor.

I can tell you with great certainty that even when he was alive, the importance of voting is the only political thing my grandfather and I agreed on. We did, however, share a faith in God and a calling to ministry.

This November my faith leads me to pursue considering my neighbors and the care of my community as I cast my vote. I encourage you all to do the same. Whether you practice a faith or not, acknRev. Sara Gross Samuelsonowledging our shared humanity and the values and needs of our neighbor is an important, albeit complex, practice these days.

This is also why local elections matter so much! Which City Council candidate's views will benefit your neighbor? What county bond measure will help improve your neighbor's life? What kind of mayor does your neighbor need?

There's a reason so many local elected positions are not partisan. … It invites us to consider our neighbors rather than label them as one party or the other. It encourages us to keep an eye and an ear toward our common community rather than our divisions. It invites us into dialogue in a way I think our community and our world are both hungry for and terrified of.

It might seem like an impossibility, but as your ballot arrives in your mailbox, I invite you to consider this practice. Before you open your ballot, visualize your neighborhood. Even if you talk to literally no one, turn your attention and curiosity toward the story of their lives.

What policies might they need to alleviate their anxieties and fears? What candidates are they considering? Democracy, like religion, is not an individual act but a communal one.

Rev. Sara Gross Samuelson is co-leader/pastor/organizer of Storyline Community in Milwaukie-Oak Grove.

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