By Steve Matthews, Senior Associate Consultant, FaithX
In just five days, leaders of our towns, counties, states, and federal government will be elected. Many of us have already voted. I’m sure somewhere, someone has done research into how people make up their minds regarding candidates (I hope prayer and discernment as a pathway to decision making rank above advertising and social media). These are complicated times, and our decisions really matter.
I wonder how my neighbors will vote? Having recently moved into this community, I was curious about my neighbors and neighborhood, so I embarked on a little research. With the help of the Missional Context Report (MCR), I was able to get some great information about the general makeup of my community. The MCR uses demographic information about a community to develop a tapestry segmentation. In these reports, neighborhoods with the most similar characteristics are grouped together, while neighborhoods with divergent characteristics are separated. This information is then developed into a narrative that helps people have a deeper understanding of the general population surrounding them.
I am finding this tool helpful. I realized that there are over 14 distinct tapestry segmentations within two miles of my little house (here is one of my local MCR’s). Just to highlight some of the differences, there are those with a range of median net worth from $15,000 to well over $400,000. Some of the communities are 98% white and others have more than 40% diversity. If this represents the life experience of people within two miles of my home in my little town in Southern Appalachia, what does it mean for your community?
This demographic tapestry reminds me that there is so much I do not know, and it reminds me to approach my neighbors with openness, compassion, and curiosity. I will also pray for this election and offer this prayer from Immanuel United Church of Christ in West Bend, WI for your practice:
May our nation be blessed with
hope and healing,
strength and softness,
courage and compassion,
vision and veracity,
fortitude and faith in the political process.
May we feel, in the coming hours and days,
a renewal of hope that calls us to thoughtful action.
May we take the ugliness that was unveiled by the antipathy and derision of this election cycle,
and hold it up to the light
allowing careful examination of the issues that breed discontent
to clear the way for the values that give birth to
justice, fairness, equality, and peace.
Let us turn our own flaws and our judgment of the other’s otherness into our growing edge of respectful discourse and understanding,
leading us to reach for what unifies us in our humanity.
Let us embrace the whole muddied mess with fresh eyes,
and listen carefully and completely
with our hearts and our ears,
catching the wickedness in our mouths,
chewing on it
until it turns slowly to a palatable phrase,
allowing us all to taste new flavors.
And as we breathe in deeply and release
the narrowness, the tightness, the bitterness,
may we be blessed with the grace and spaciousness to
and bear the weight