Disaster Response for Oklahoma
Bethany Presbyterian participates in Disaster Assistance through the Presbyterian Church (USA). If you would like to learn more about how you can assist those affected by the recent tornados through financial giving, participation or prayer, information may be found here: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
The Poetree - Poems Celebrating God's Creation
Come enjoy the ribbons and chimes, and poems by Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Teilhard de Chardin, and many more at our new church lawn art installation, located outside Bethany's main doors.
Doug Kelly, Head of Staff
“Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” —Ephesians 3:15
“Let’s agree to disagree agreeably.” —Presbyterian Elder, 1987
Elder Adele Drummond and I have just completed leading our 2013 Elder Orientation for new elders on our Session, opening it to continuing elders as well. One of the things I gave the elders is a document produced for our denomination called Seeking To Be Faithful Together — Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement. It’s a ten-point list to help Sessions, Congregations, and Presbyteries have conversations—especially hard conversations—in a Christ-like manner.
The fifth point is worth quoting:
Focus on ideas and suggestions instead of questioning people’s motives, intelligence or integrity; we will not engage in name-calling or labeling.
Note this point’s critique of political pundits and others who resort to labeling opponents as manipulators, idiots or demons; we disagree with someone and then feel free to question their parentage or their standing with God.
Years ago, at a church I served, one of my Sunday School coordinators shared about a conversation she had with a fellow Christian. They were disagreeing on a social issue—an issue on which I, in fact, disagreed with my coordinator. The other person ended up stomping away from the conversation, declaring to my friend, “Well, you’re going to hell.”
Years later, I found myself talking about that same issue with someone who found my position lacking. She declared, “Well, you’re not a Christian.” Same issue, and people from either side questioning the integrity of their brother and sister in Christ. That’s not how we do it at Bethany. Not at Session. Not in our home groups. Not in our congregation.
How do we do it at Bethany? We speak truth in love.
I remember a feminist theologian coming to Princeton Seminary to lecture back in the 1980’s. During the question and answer period, a Ph. D. student made a remark. I’ll never forget the theologian’s response. She simply said, “We disagree on this,” then went on to state her case.
That’s a lesson for all of us at Bethany when speaking with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We don’t question their commitment to Jesus, their brain power, or intentions. We learn to do what one wise Presbyterian elder taught me years ago: we agree to disagree agreeably.
Your brother in Christ,
To see the entire 10-point list, please visit this link.