The importance of voting and community-building – Golden Rule Moments, published

golden rule moments

The importance of voting and community-building

Albert Celoza, Ph.D.

Special to The Republic

During election years politicians persuade voters that the coming election is the most important election. The 2024 election is seen as a way of making decisions to solve critical problems.

‘Voting gives us each the personal power to impact the community decisions, so I need to exercise that power with integrity.’ This is Gretchen Reinhardt’s approach as the Faith Votes Coordinator for the nonprofit organization Arizona Interfaith Power and Light. AZIPL traces its roots to the ecumenical organization of churches and religious congregations in Arizona. In particular, its mission is to mobilize people of faith and conscience to care for the earth and work for climate justice for everyone adversely affected. AZIPL values faith and spiritual grounding. It holds a vision and commitment to justice, hope, and love for everyone.

To reach out and inform voters is quite a challenging task for anyone. Gretchen’s dedication to this work comes from her commitment to peace, democracy, and justice rooted in the Quaker vision of ‘living in that Life and Power that takes away the occasion for war’ and trusting ‘that of God’ to be accessible to each of us in our daily lives. Gretchen has tirelessly worked in community-building, served in committees, boards, and commissions, and given presentations in schools as an advocate for peace, justice, and democratic community response.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, Gretchen’s Golden Rule moments were shaped by a teacher who believed that women and children are key to building long-term and lasting peace in society. Her First Day (Sunday school) teacher, Elise Boulding, felt that ‘from the youngest of ages children should be socialized to approach conflicts and problems critically and non-confrontationally’. Women and mothers, in particular, have a great influence in creating a culture of peace. Teaching children is an important role for women as mothers. Women have a great influence in setting this foundational practice in forming a culture of peace.

Teaching in the sense of Quaker or Religious Society of Friends is done not just by talking or admonition but by quieting oneself and listening. Quakers believed that each person is a divine spark, an aspect of the divine inherent in humans, which they often express as ‘that of God in everyone.’ Thus, Gretchen was trained to listen attentively to this wisdom. This approach starts with respect for others, facilitated by the practice of giving space beyond oneself, listening attentively to others, and establishing consensus from the grassroots.

Gretchen’s journey in education in politics, conflict resolution, and peacemaking has benefitted Arizona communities, the foundation of which was laid by her Golden Rule moments in her youth.

For information about Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, visit

For more information about voting and elections, contact

Gretchen Reinhardt of Arizona Interfaith Power and Light. Provided by Albert Celoza, Ph.D.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2024 The Arizona Republic 5/18/2024