Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Happy Tuesday!

We hope you are faring well as we experience "Winter Storm Olena". Here are a couple of quick announcements before we share our feature story.
ANNOUNCEMENTS

Game Night for Friday: will be held in March

You may have heard a mention of a Game Night to be held this Friday evening - this will in fact will be offered again next month. Stay tuned for details!

Do you have a story to recommend?

If you have a story idea for our weekly Spotlight series, we would like to hear it. You can write the story yourself - give us the basic info (either in writing or be interviewed) - or direct us to whom we can get the info from. Please contact us anytime at info@fpc-bethlehem.org.
Constructive Conversations
By Rev. J.C. Austin

One of the Core Values that we have identified for our congregation is being a Christian community that is “Welcoming to All.”

That is a statement that sounds inherently positive (and it is!), because it means that we are committed to being a community that is generous in space and in spirit, that is truly hospitable to others, and that welcomes diversity of opinion, perspective, background, and experience, seeing those differences as resources to help us to greater faithfulness to the will of God.

Theologically, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Reformed Christian tradition in general emphasizes the importance of such diversity in the same way. The danger of any group in which people share the same opinions, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences is that it becomes far too easy to mistake our own beliefs and intentions with the mind and will of God because there is nobody saying otherwise.
So being truly welcoming to a wide diversity of people is not simply a nice thing to do, but a theological imperative for faithful life and ministry as a congregation.

And, it is not always easy! Because, by definition, being welcoming to those who think or believe or act differently from you is going to create disagreements and misunderstandings from time to time.
That is not a problem, it is a gift, because it allows us to re-examine what we believe or do in light of that disagreement and consider whether we need to think or act differently.

But it is not easy, because it requires us to commit to both hearing and saying difficult things to one another. And unfortunately, we are living in a time where our society is less and less capable or even interested in doing that; the hyper-polarization of our national life and politics makes division and disagreement into a badge of honor to display proudly, rather than an opportunity to reconsider and seek new and better understandings.
This is why, over the last several years, we have tried to not only call for the need to have difficult conversations across lines of disagreement, but to equip people to do that constructively.

As the extreme polarization of the election season is hopefully starting to recede, this seems like a good time to remind ourselves of these commitments and the resources we have to assist us in living them out.

To that end, we remind you of these programs previously offered by our Discipleship Committee, that are available via video:

THREE PART SESSION ON “CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS” BY MARY LOU HATCHER:





We hope you find these resources to be helpful.