In the book of Ecclesiastes we read that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. Included in the list is: “a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Here are a few of my favorite quotes on listening:
“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill
In February of 2019, General Conference voted to tighten the ban on gay clergy and same-sex unions. For some, the vote brought a time of relief and joy; for some, the vote brought disappointment and pain. The global United Methodist Church has wrestled with questions of human sexuality since 1972. It seems that attempts to bring unity are struggling; divisions seem to grow deeper between United Methodists who hold different biblical and theological perspectives.
Beginning on July 7, the HPC Way Forward Task Force, chaired by Dr. Al Painter, will hold six listening sessions. Gathered around tables, church members will be invited to listen respectfully to the responses of others without judgment or comment. People will be asked to share their thoughts and feelings after the vote in February as well as their thoughts regarding the response of Hyde Park Community UMC. People will also be invited to speak of their hopes for the future. All views and perspectives are welcomed and valued. The Task Force will record all comments without identifying the speaker, seeking to understand our congregation as we stand at this intersection. Laity will lead the gatherings; clergy will participate in the de-brief meetings following each listening session.
Please read the Listening Session article that is included in this issue of News and Happenings for more details. Dates for the six sessions are listed. You are invited to join the Task Force for these holy conversations.
Thank you, in advance, for having both the courage to speak up and the courage to listen.