More Americans voted in the 2020 election than in any other in U.S. history. Many voted by mail, and many waited in hours-long lines, in the midst of an exploding pandemic, because the ability to vote is a sacred right and responsibility. Every voter should be proud of participating in this historic election.

In the lead up to the election, community leaders gathered weekly as the Grand Traverse Regional Action Council. We offered Every Vote Counts vigils, ensured that people felt safe at the polls, created virtual gathering places for our neighbors experiencing extreme stress and worked with organizations across the state to ensure that every vote counted. Along with our clergy colleagues and the Area Council on Religious Diversity, we called for calm, respect and compassion — sentiments that prevailed and carried the day.

In the end, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were chosen by the voters, and they will be sworn on Jan. 20, 2021. While some may not celebrate the outcome, we must agree that it is time for our country to move forward together.

Our nation faces serious issues — economic inequality, the COVID pandemic and racial injustice among them. Northern Michigan faces these crises as well as local issues including a lack of affordable housing, unequal access to health care and the disenfranchisement of people of color. It is time for all of us to move forward together.

We call upon our neighbors, regardless of party, to join together to tackle the difficult issues we as a region and as a nation face. In short, we call upon our community to turn its gaze to where we wish to go as we move forward together while rallying against reckless attempts to ignore the overwhelming consensus of Michigan voters.

We need to move forward together because Black lives matter, the climate crisis is real, water is life, no human is illegal, reproductive rights are human rights, the LGBTQ community deserves equal rights, people with disabilities must be fully included and our indigenous communities deserve respect — for a start. Calling for justice across a broadening spectrum of our community makes the world more peaceful, just and harmonious for us all. It is time for us to move forward together.

About the authors: Jody Betten is a pastor at New Waves United Church of Christ in Traverse City. She serves as area minister for the United Northern Association Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ. Chava Bahle is a renewal rabbi based in Leelanau County.

About the authors: Jody Betten is a pastor at New Waves United Church of Christ in Traverse City. She serves as area minister for the United Northern Association Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ. 

Chava Bahle is a renewal rabbi based in Leelanau County. 

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