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Written by Gradye Parsons

Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.

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September 1, 2013

September 2013 - Church communities are stronger through conversation, diversity and respect

Thomas Edison said “The body is a community made up of its innumerable cells or inhabitants.
This sure sounds like Paul to the Corinthians. It is interesting to think of the body as a community instead of a mass of cells and organs. A revisit to Paul’s image of the body in 1 Corinthians 12 can lead us into an understanding of community. The body parts in Paul’s metaphor—feet, hands, ears, and eyes—are talking. It is not nice talk but it is conversation. That is what happens in a community. Communication fuels the relationship. Pleasant conversations can be your favorite movie. Unpleasant conversations can be about your political views. The pleasant and the unpleasant, the easy and the hard, the living room conversations and the kitchen ones all make up the story line that creates a community.

The second gleaning from 1 Corinthians is the value of roles. The diversity of roles is the strength of the community. One of the struggles that comes from “taming” the land for agriculture is that usually a diverse plant world gives way to a single crop world. In a diverse world one single plant virus is not as destructive because the other plants can still be healthy. A single crop world is at greater risk. A community of feet, hands, ears, and eyes receives various types of input and gives various types of input. The diversity makes a healthier community.

The third gleaning is the respect given to all. Every community has leaders, followers, doers, and un-doers. The musician and the mechanic, the farmer and the baker, the teacher and the student are all equally important. Learning the value of your own self from a community can be a gift to your ego. Learning to appreciate the value of someone else is a gift to your soul.

When the community that is the church talks with each other, accepts its diversity as a gift, and respects everyone good things can happen. I pray that this is what happens in your congregation and in our church.

Tags: conversation, gradye parsons, monthly column, stated clerk, thomas edison