CHARLOTTE -- At churches across North Carolina, ministers took to pulpits Sunday morning with messages laced as thickly with pleas to turn out at the polls as they were with scripture.

Led by the local NAACP, black churches have engaged in months of voter education efforts and "moral Monday" events urging voters to go to the polls.

They hope to boost Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, who is locked in a neck-and-neck battle with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. During a midterm election in which Democratic control of the Senate hangs in the balance, the seat is one of several across the nation that could be decided largely by how many black voters show up on Tuesday.

"Raise your hand if you can give at least one hour of your time to assist people who need to vote," instructed Thomas Falls, one of the worship leaders.

As dozens of hands shot up in the air, ushers made their way through the pews handing out instruction sheets.

"One hour. Who has one hour? One hour before breakfast? One hour at lunch? How about an hour after work?" he repeated in minister's cadence.

"And who here has already voted?" Falls asked next.

A smattering of more than 100 hands in the crowd of hundreds shot in the air.

The church, which regulars say is often close to full during its three Sunday morning services, was especially packed today because the service served as an election-themed rally and marked  the 16th anniversary of the calling of their lead pastor Rev. Gregory K. Moss.

"The one thing he asked for is that you go out and cast your vote as a celebration of his 16 years here," said Dr. Monica Redmond, addressing the service.

The morning's third sermon was delivered by Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP chapter, who preached a fiery, free-flowing message that decried a worldly love of power and money he said has seduced many of America's elected officials.

Barber never mentioned either Senate candidate by name, but railed against "politicians in the state of North Carolina" who have opposed early voting, have "attacked education" (a popular critique of Tillis because of his support for state education cuts), and those who have "tried to limit healthcare."

"Almost as though they have been seduced by another spirit to deny healthcare and deny living wages and deny public education," Barber declared in deep baritone, clad in a purple and white pastoral robe. "They do it just because they can! They give more wealth to the wealthy and they give more grief to the poor!"

North Carolina is home to what is considered one of this year's least predictable electorates. The state was the only one in the nation to vote for President Obama in 2008 but not in 2012. They also helped elect a wave of GOP and tea party state leaders in 2010.

Democratic operatives say that Hagan needs black voters to account for more than 20 percent of the total electorate -- similar to their percentage of turnout in 2008 and 2012 -- in order to propel her to victory.

Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping for a turnout model more similar to 2010, during which fewer black and young voters came to the polls.

This cycle the GOP, which is engaged in a national outreach campaign in black communities, has been dumping significant resources into black media ad buys in markets in battlegrounds, including Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina.

On Friday, while Hagan was stumping with former President Bill Clinton, Tillis rolled out the endorsement of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who remains one of the nation's most prominent and accomplished black Republicans.

“America faces challenges both at home and abroad. We need leaders in Washington to address these issues head on,” Rice said in a statement released by the Tillis campaign. "Thom Tillis is an effective leader who can work across the aisle to solve problems and make our government more accountable to the people."

With the campaigns transitioning into full get-out-the-vote mode, Democrats say that turnout totals from early voting, which ended on Saturday, make them optimistic.

Barber has for more than a year hosted the "moral Monday" events, aimed at mobilizing black turnout in a midterm election when many are unlikely to show up at the polls. One poll, conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this year in major battleground districts, found that 67 percent of Democratic "base voters" (African Americans, Hispanics, young women) were not aware that there was an election this year.

Barber and others focused on voter mobilization have been new using voter restrictions passed by state legislators as a rallying cry. The laws, which are deeply unpopular with many black voters, eliminated same-day registration and curbed early voting.

"You've got to vote because too many people bled, and died, and sacrificed for you to have that right," Barber yelled, compelling a standing ovation. "And if people are trying so hard to suppress that right, you must be powerful."