Building a Gracious Space Online: #GracePCUSA Twitter Chat

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has moved from the General Assembly in June, through a busy summer, and now turns toward church-wide consideration of the GA recommendation (14F) concerning section 4.9000 in the Directory for Worship on marriage.

One of the special aspects of Presbyterianism is the opportunity given to every teaching elder and an equal number of rulings elders to participate with voice and vote in their presbytery discernment process on important actions like articulating our understanding of marriage. And every Presbyterian can share with their pastor or elder commissioner to presbytery their inspiration from the Holy Spirit on the matter before the church. Everyone can join in the conversation.

The upcoming voting season on 14F offers us a chance to be the church of Jesus Christ: To build a gracious space for discussion of a potentially volatile topic where all feel comfortable because we listen prayerfully to one another, honoring each other as children of God.

To help make this happen, I joined Presbyterians from across the country to discuss this very opportunity in a Twitter Chat on October 16th. It’s amazing the wisdom that can be shared in 140 characters!

As with our #GAMargins Twitter chat heading into the General Assembly, I was both surprised and delighted by the enthusiastic participation of far-flung Presbyterians. We heard from folks like Brian Ellison (@PtsBrian) who has experienced increased trust in his presbytery, as well as from those who are still struggling to build trust in theirs. One of the key takeaways for me that day came from Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (@irobyn), who reminded us that one-on-one conversations are sacred and provide the foundation for a gracious space. Alex Patchin McNeill of MLP (@presbyqueerian) also suggested structure, including, for example, a respected moderator and a clear process, could help us feel safe in this kind of debate. This gives you just a taste of the insight shared in this Twitter Chat, #GracePCUSA.

Find a full recap of our conversation below. May it give you good ideas to help you participate in your presbytery effort to make consideration of 14F a gracious space for all. I encourage you to read through it and ponder upon your own answers to the questions posed. Then, please, share them in the comments here and on Twitter with the hashtag, #GracePCUSA.

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