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Thanks for the conversation: let's keep talking it through.

In January the Record asked, Can We Talk? An example of two people disagreeing, with respect and openness, played out on Facebook in January on a page for friends and members of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

The conversation began when Rev. Jeremy Bellsmith, minister at Burns, Whitby, Ont., proposed an idea called Generous Spaciousness, by Rev. Wendy Gritter of New Direction (

He described it as this: "New Direction focuses on creating a safe environment for people from both sides of the issue to nurture their faith and grow in their relationship with Christ." He quoted Gritter as saying: "Generous spaciousness is energized by Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17 that we would be one so that the world would know. Our unity, transcending our differences and diversity, is intimately connected to our public witness. When we choose the way of love, we can find the beauty of unity, and we can be a beautiful picture to those who may be watching."

Rev. Emery Cawsey, minister at Whalley, Surrey, B.C., responded. Below is an excerpted example of their conversation.

EMERY CAWSEY: My personal prayer is that the church continue in her faithful witness in the area of human sexuality while loving all people as it has. I hope the church does not in the end worship the enlightenment god of the culture, but rather continues to worship the revealed God in Jesus Christ. My suspicion is the church is already divided, that the sexuality issue is simply the toothpaste cap on the reality of the view of the gospel.... Whether the PCC stays within the orthodox faith on this issue or others, or chooses to leave it who knows. I know that the Church will continue and God will continue blessing the preaching of the gospel.

JEREMY BELLSMITH: I think we're united in our prayer that the church should remain faithful in our witness. I believe that to be one that includes both sides of this contentious issue.

It's why I hear God speaking in generous spaciousness: it allows us to hold Christ higher than our own perspectives on any one issue.

I wonder about the witness of a church that allows itself to be divided on one issue, when they hold so many other things in common. We share a love for God as revealed through the Jesus of the Bible, and devotion to his mission and gospel. How can divorcing from the family honour our high priest's prayer for unity?

My hope is for what God can do with a Church that is committed to the God that has brought us together, despite our differences.

I got to hear Tony Campolo and his wife speak on human sexuality while I was still in my undergrad. They had radically opposed views. Despite each being able to root their interpretation from the scriptures, they came to opposite conclusions. When the talk was over, they left. Still married; still together. Their love and commitment to each other and to the God that had united them was bigger than their difference on an issue.

Thanks again for the conversation. Let's keep talking it through.

CAWSEY: I appreciate your response; it is gracious and inviting, rare really. Herein is the rub for me. If it were simply up to me, frankly I would not care. I have relatives and friends who hold to a different view than myself and some are practicing homosexuals. It would be far easier to simply nod and turn one's head.

No one, when they consider it, would actually carry such thinking to its natural end, thankfully. The question is not whether to "include" or "exclude;" it is whether the behaviour or behaviours, the thought or thoughts, the belief or beliefs fit within the framework of the group (any group for that reason).

To read the full conversation:

Also, be sure to join the Presbyterian Record Community Facebook group.
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Title Annotation:OPINION; Jeremy Bellsmith and Emery Cawsey
Author:Faiz, Andrew
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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