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Seattle vigils seek to heal political divisions

St. Mark's Dean Steven Thomason says the cathedral has a civic mission as well.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil
St. Mark's Dean Steven Thomason says the cathedral has a civic mission as well.

A moment of peaceful contemplation: That’s what some Seattle-area churches and community groups are trying to offer on the eve of this election. They say people are feeling anxious after a year of harsh political rhetoric.

Campaigns are still holding "get out the vote" rallies. They say they’ll be canvassing for voters through dinner time on Election Day. 

But people are also gathering to try and overcome the divisions this election has deepened.

Steven Thomason is the dean of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill in Seattle. He said the church hasn’t traditionally held prayer vigils focused on elections, but his parishioners seemed to need it. 

“This is the first time in recent memory. Because this is just a really unusual time in our nation,” he said.

The church originally planned a small traditional service in their chapel. But now they’re expanding it to an interfaith service, and inviting religious and civic leaders to take part. It’s scheduled for7 p.m. Monday in the cathedral sanctuary.

“What we’ve heard in recent days is people across the community are really desiring something of this nature and since this cathedral --  since it was built 90 years ago -- has served that purpose for the city of Seattle we’re opening our doors and inviting people to be a part of that,” Thomason said.

The focus will be on prayers for healing for the country, not for specific outcomes at the ballot box.

They’ve invited Jewish and Muslim leaders, as well as local and national elected officials. Churches in Edmonds and Columbia City are among others also holding prayer services.

And there’s a secular candlelight vigil planned for 5 p.m. Monday at Westlake Park downtown, sponsored by the group Hate-Free Delridge.

Organizer Dave Gamrath said his group formed after a hateful letter was left on a biracial family’s house in the Delridge neighborhood this summer.

“Really, really nasty stuff and really threatening,” he said. “And the whole neighborhood was up in arms about this and rallied and wanted to do something."

Gamrath said people are worried that the election results will lead to more angry rhetoric rather than less. He said the message of the vigil is to ask people across the political spectrum to work for a peaceful transition. 

This story originally aired November 7, 2016.