May is among a core group of four pastors that began to work together on voting rights after individually coming out in opposition to Georgia’s new election law, passed by the state’s Republican-led General Assembly. The group also includes Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, the Rev. Timothy McDonald of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta and Bishop Reginald Jackson, who oversees over 500 Georgia congregations in the African Methodist Episcopal denomination.
Although their opposition to Georgia’s election law and support of the two proposals in Washington align with Democrats’ positions, the pastors say their work is nonpartisan and about something bigger than who wins or loses any given election.
Bryant said he got involved in pushing for the federal laws after witnessing record turnout during January’s U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia. Young voters were more engaged than ever, Bryant said, and he felt the new state law was intended to stifle that newly found voting power.
During Tuesday night’s service, he laid out the groups’ mission as one intended to strengthen American democracy.
“We are here because we don’t want to tear the nation apart, but we want to build it up,” Bryant said.
The four pastors also tapped lobbyists to help them schedule meetings at the Capitol with senators on both sides of the aisle. And they met with Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. The pastors say they want Biden to use his bully pulpit more forcefully in favor of voting rights.
And they set up workshops to help teach members of their congregations and others how to engage with their elected officials. Each event was livestreamed for the people back home who couldn’t make the trip.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson attended Wednesday morning’s event, where he encouraged the pastors and audience members not to lose faith.
“We’re going to get this done,” the Lithonia Democrat said.