Building Gracious Space in the PCUSA: Trust through Kindness

How the Presbyterian Church (USA) can find common ground and a space for gracious conversation continues to occupy my thoughts and imagination. In my latest post for More Light Presbyterians, I recount lessons learned from the movement to ordain women and the Kenyon case – forgotten history, perhaps, for some, but a vivid memory for others of a time when seeds of distrust were first sewn between the conservative and liberal parts of the church. Below is an excerpt from the piece:

Presbyterians who thought as Kenyon did were forced to swallow their more literal interpretation of Scripture in order to remain in the church.

At the same time, this besieged wing of the church saw the power of judicial action to enforce a majority position on controversial issues. Over the next forty years, they used it liberally to attempt to discipline pastors and sessions that ordained LGBT members and presided at weddings for lesbian or gay couples. Now, a whole other wing of the PCUSA has come to distrust their colleagues in ministry. We all feel besieged.

How can we proceed together in the PCUSA with such distrust of one another? We can’t. How do we begin to rebuild this trust required of us, not only by our ordination vows, but also by Jesus in His prayers in the gospel of John?

I offer my own way forward: kindness. I encourage you to read the full piece at MLP’s website. Do you remember the Kenyon case? What lessons does it offer for you? Is kindness enough to overcome the divide our church faces? What else is important in these discussions? I look forward to reading you comments below and on MLP’s website.

I encourage you also to read the rest of my series on building a gracious space in the PCUSA:

On Weeping

On Forgiveness

On Shared Feelings

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