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Invitation to Discussion

 We admittedly represent what might look to others as one of the more “prickly” and “irritating” parts of our community. 

The next sentence is not intended to be hurtful, but to be honest with ourselves and with you (read that again if you must). 

As an evangelical, charismatic, republican-leaning, Christians of German/English and Irish heritages, we think Jesus is the only way to God; 

There, we said it.......…but we hope you'll keep reading......

If people can’t admit and understand the differing, deep convictions we all hold can we really expect to find ways to work together? We get it that some might feel rejected in that statement and probably feel similarly about us; that what we believe is, in their view, false and distorted. Right? Let’s openly admit those things.

And move past them with listening and respect.

One person said, "Let’s just avoid the tough topics and try to find where we agree."  We agree, partially, we must find where we can work together. However, turning the light down low enough that we all look the same in the partial dark won’t help us to stop bumping into each other and stepping on each other’s toes. Political, Racial, Religious, Moral differences don’t go away in the dark. Better to turn the light up where we can see clearly how we are similar and different. Then we can see better how to avoid each other’s toes. 

If we are to have the moral strength to resist evil and persevere to real change we will all need to hold our convictions deeply and publicly…we will all need to have those convictions tested and challenged by one another.

And we must find ways to work together to serve those most in need in our community.

We are in. Will you come and journey with us for the sake of Frederick and the surrounding communities?

Let’s build some solid Bridges of trust and respect. 

In order to work together. We will have to listen to one another:

· as Evangelicals from different streams to identify the essentials in Christ and the non-essentials where intelligent sincere believers can disagree;

· as liberal/conservative/Catholic Christians to identify how our genuinely divergent gospel teachings leave us understandably unable to work together as churches and distrusting one another concerning morality, salvation…as well as other but not all areas. We diverged years back at deep levels. However, Jesus example and teachings (though understood very differently) still deeply motivate all of us in service to others.

· as Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Unitarian/Sikh/Buddhist/Atheist/Secularist to celebrate and rebuild the aging and somewhat broken down infrastructure of the First Amendment. None of us wants anyone forced to worship against their conscience. None of us wants anyone silenced about what they believe to true. Yet, our deepest held religious beliefs define our convictions in ways that often leave us deeply distrustful of one another. We do not all believe the same, but if we are willing we can understand those differences in ways that both honor our differences and yet don’t compromise our convictions; However you define him, does not God care about the hurting?

· as Democrat/Independent/Republican to translate our polarized language and often unfair, yet powerful caricatures from anger into face to face, personal mutual understanding and trust; Have you ever met a politically engaged activist that doesn’t want to see positive change for their community?

· as white/black/latino/Asian/Middle Eastern to recognize the cultural/historical distinctions that makes each of us unique; that define our perspectives on current events and leave us at times unsure how to communicate respect and trust across those divides; and that leave us at times with genuine historical injustices unresolved between us. It’s just true: the way one culture defines respect and trust could communicate disrespect and distrust to another culture…and often does. Are we not all human?

· as men/women/straight/LGBTQ to pierce the fierce anger and vitriol that has flared between conflicting moral worldviews, conflicting definitions of equality and liberty, conflicting perceptions of “the pursuit of happiness”; To find ways to embrace, show affection, accept one another as fellow humans, citizens and at times fellow believers; Again, are we not all human? 

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