blackchurches

The Reverend Kevin Slayton Sr., of New Waverly Methodist Church, expects 100 percent of his congregants to cast their votes. (Courtesy photo)

Major churches in the Baltimore area are advocating the importance of voting and trying to get their congregants to register and vote.

New Psalmist Baptist Church, New Shiloh Baptist Church, and the Empowerment Temple are taking steps to make sure their congregants get to the polls for the April 26 primary as well as the general election in November.

New Psalmist Baptist Church, located in the Grove Park community, hosted a candidacy forum called “Conversation with the Candidates” on March 12. Congregants of the church were able to meet and speak with 23 of the 29 mayoral candidates, according to media relations and promotions director Joi Thomas.

Thomas added that New Psalmist will also have the Board of Elections give demonstrations on how to operate the voting machines ahead of the primary.

New Shiloh’s NAACP Youth Council has been doing does voter throughout the year.

“Our NAACP council does voter registration throughout the year,” said Deacon Jamelia Ward, pastoral executive assistant of New Shiloh. “We’ve had a number of the candidates, state level as well as the city, come in and worship and have a chance to address the congregation. Typically Radio One will host one of their ‘Get Out and Vote’ rallies here.”

The Empowerment Temple, located in the Arlington neighborhood, is also participating in city-wide voter registration drives, according to Nicole Kirby, who handles public relations for the church.

It’s not just the larger churches in Baltimore who are trying to make sure their congregants vote. Smaller churches are doing their part as well.

The Reverend Kevin Slayton Sr., of New Waverly Methodist Church, expects 100 percent of his congregants cast their votes.

“We did a voter registration on Jan. 17, called ‘The Voter Campaign Check-up,’” said Slayton. “We had everybody on that Sunday fill out registration forms and then we submitted those to the Board of Election.”

New Waverly was one of 26 churches in the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) of Metropolitan Baltimore to do voter registration event this way.

IMA also held a candidate interview for those running for city council in districts one, three, five, seven, eight, and 12. In addition,  Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, who are running for Senate addressed the church, according to Slayton.

“Historically the Black church has played a significant role, even from the Voting Rights Act of 1965; it’s part of the DNA of the Black church,” said Slayton.

The involvement of churches in elections isn’t a foreign concept for in Baltimore.

During the 2012 election local churches started a campaign called “Get the Souls to the Polls.”