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Getting to Amen: 8 Strategies for Managing Conflict in the African American Church.

Getting to Amen: 8 Strategies for Managing Conflict in the African American Church by Lora-Ellen McKinney Judson Press, July 2005 $14, ISBN 0-817-01477-2

The church has been a source of inspiration, comfort and status for the African American community for years. Our churches helped us survive the unimaginable during slavery, served as a wellspring for the Civil Rights Movement and continue to energize our tired souls today. For many of us, our church family is as dear to us as blood. Like family, however, the love and support found in the church often comes also with challenges, hardships, and inevitably, conflict.

In Getting to Amen, Lora-Ellen McKinney addresses the incompatible ideas that arise in any body politic, and offers advice on acknowledging and overcoming conflict.

McKinney's book is enlightening because she applies an impressive background in conflict management--she has worked with the Harvard Negotiation Project and served as a monitor for the first democratic election in El Salvador--to common issues that divide African American churches, such as female leadership, homosexuality and the move toward nondenominational "megachurches" Recognizing that conflict is a necessary and potentially productive component of a relationship, McKinney offers strategies that allow voices to be heard, fears to be allayed, and people to demonstrate their faith in God.

While her "8 P's" (prayer, preaching, parishioner awareness, perspectives on problems, practical solutions, programs, pastoral management and promises) do not always lend themselves to solving complex conflicts like the Christian response to homosexuality, the approach does add an air of civility and openness to such debates.

The study questions at the end of several chapters are ideal for a small, young or transitional church trying to fashion its core values. McKinney's call to, in the words of Senator Barack Obama, "disagree without being disagreeable," is sage advice for all believers and bodies of believers.

--Reviewed by Tracy D. Weaver Tracey D. Weaver is a freelance writer in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Author:Weaver, Tracy D.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2005
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