In an election cycle unlike nearly any other, where citizens often claim to be voting for the lesser of two evils rather than the candidate that inspires them, the Riverhead community turned to prayer on the night before Election Day.
Led by the Rev. Sean Murray of First Congregational Church, nearly 30 local residents of different political parties and religious affiliations gathered for a half hour candlelit, silent vigil in Grangebel Park. The idea was to ask for guidance prior to the bitter and divisive election.
“We are on the brink of a future that is tainted with cynicism, violence and climatic disaster,” the Rev. Murray said. “While one evening will not change the course of our history, a gathering will strengthen each other’s hope and resolve.”
So as the sun set late Monday evening, people stood near the river and bowed their heads, held candles close to their chests and prayed silently.
Attendees agreed they came out because they, like many others, were concerned and scared about the outcome of tomorrow’s election and wanted to feel support no matter which way they voted.
They described the election as bitter and divisive, and prayed that no matter what happens country will find its way through.
The idea began with the Long Island Council of Churches, of which the Rev. Murray is a member, to host an island-wide prayer. When that didn’t pan out as planned, he decided to host the prayer locally, sponsored by the Riverhead Clergy Council.
At the First Congregational Church, parishioners have been praying about the outcome of the election and the nation for the past 20 days, part of a national movement.
“Based on the national mood and because this election has been as contentious as it has, I really thought that it behooved us to get together and to pray about it,” the Rev. Murray said.
He said Grangebel Park was chosen because it was a central location without any religious insignia and would be welcoming for people.
One resident noticed three ducks circling overhead during the beginning of the vigil, which she interpreted as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit watching over the group, something she felt was encouraging.
The prayer was held silently so that it was focused more on general hope for the future rather than one political party or candidate.
The Rev. Murray concluded the 30-minute silent prayer by saying “may God bless and guide Riverhead, our state, our nation and our world.”