Detroit churches ramp up to get out black vote
Detroit — The importance of making sure the black vote in Detroit turns out to the polls in two days was highlighted in the pulpits across the city on Sunday.
With presidential rivals Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton barnstorming Michigan in the final 48 hours of the 2016 campaign, city political and religious leaders in the last week have made an effort to boost black voter turnout on Election Day.
That effort intensified through sermons on Sunday.
Inside the spacious Second Ebenezer Church on Dequindre at Interstate 75, senior pastor Bishop Edgar Vann II encouraged hundreds of congregants during the 8 a.m. worship service to control the controllable in their lives by rediscovering their passion for God, the church, their work and the importance of civic involvement.
With a suddenly tight election looming in Michigan, Vann said "the church is strong enough to withstand everything going on in the culture," adding that "whoever we put in the White House, God is still on the throne.
"This thing is not in a man's hands or a woman's hands, but in God's," Vann said. "No matter who wins on Tuesday, you better wake up Wednesday praying."
Vann, who serves on the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and whose image appears on billboards for Crime Stoppers of Michigan, chided people who volunteer for leadership positions but don't follow through because they're discouraged by the difficulty of the mission itself or of the personalities they're forced to deal with.
Giving in to discouragement, Vann said, keeps people from reaching their full potential. "God's not grading you on a curve," he said.
Over on the west side, at the 11 a.m. service at Historic King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, the Rev. Charles Williams II stressed to dozens of congregants the importance of taking action rather than being stressed.
Williams' message drew from Second Chronicles 7:11, the start of a passage that puts the impetus on believers to humble themselves, repent for what they're doing wrong, and take action to make it right.
"New beginnings, new opportunities, restoration and rehabilitation are always possible," Williams said. "Many have been tricked to believe that once something is broken, it can't be fixed."
Though a Clinton/Kaine sign is placed on a patch of grass on the side of the church, Williams’ sermon was no endorsement. For parishioners who approached him with concern about what would happen if Trump was elected, the pastor offered a simple solution: Go vote.
"You can't expect a change if you aren't working for it," said Williams, president of the National Action Network in Michigan. "You can't have change if you don't vote."