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Minister to Atlanta’s homeless stands for election to Georgia State Senate

30 October 2020


The Revd Kim Jackson

The Revd Kim Jackson

AN EPISCOPALIAN priest who ministers to the homeless community in Atlanta, Georgia, is standing for election as a Democrat candidate to Georgia State Senate to find another way of championing the voices of the “unseen and unheard”.

The Revd Kim Jackson is the minister of the Church of the Common Ground, which serves the homeless and vulnerable. She is standing in a Democratic safe seat for District 41, currently held by the Democratic leader of the state senate, who is stepping down.

If she is successful in the state-senate elections on Tuesday, which are held alongside the presidential election, she will remain minister of the church, and also be the first openly lesbian state senator. She promises to fight for the rights of LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive rights, alongside her “priorities” of expanding health care and improving public education.

Ms Jackson said that she was reasonably confident in her race, but “the country has a lot to worry about.” Since she was a child, she has had a “twin calling” of serving as a priest and holding elected office, she said.

“I knew I was called to the ministry when I was eight years old, but I felt similarly called to elected office at the age of 13. I thought I might not be able to do both, and might have to wait until I retired as a priest, but I felt called to stand now. I feel uniquely placed to be someone who will prioritise people who are usually unseen and unheard. The President talks about a great economic recovery, but I am here to talk about those who are left behind.”

She gained the support of her bishop before putting her name forward, and also has the enthusiastic support of her congregation.

Ms Jackson had been active in politics for several years before seeking the nomination: she has protested against the death penalty, which is still in force in Georgia, and has spoken on other social issues.

She said that the atmosphere in Georgia was growing increasingly anxious as the election day approached. “People are anxious — they are not sure their votes will count — but I tell people to have faith in the system.”

Cases of Covid have been rising in Atlanta and in Georgia throughout October. Although her congregation has not been hit too hard with infections, the challenge will be finding them shelter this winter, she said.

The Episcopal Church and the Forward Movement have begun a novena for the election. Begun on Tuesday, the novena will carry through to 4 November: the day after the elections in the United States.

The Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, called on everyone to pray for the people and the leaders of the US. “We pray for our country, for all who cast votes, all who seek office, for all who hold office, we pray for the people of this land, but not for ourselves alone but for the peoples of the earth and the leaders of the nations.”

Voting intentions. A poll of 10,543 US citizens registered to vote, conducted by Pew Center earlier this month, indicated that White Christians (Roman Catholics and Protestants of both Evangelical and non-Evangelical persuasion) would vote for Donald Trump rather than Joe Biden, but that, while support for the President had fallen since a similar poll in August, there had not been a significant jump in favour of the Democratic candidate. White Christians are a key segment of the electorate, because they make up roughly 44 per cent of registered voters. The Pew Center poll found that 90 per cent of Black Protestants favoured Mr Biden, but points out that they constitute just seven per cent of registered voters.

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