We have closed our Progressive Christian Alliance Facebook and online groups temporarily. They will be open again to posting in seven days. I, as interim Chair, am not going to hash out all the details of why, except to say that I hope that this week will help folks cool off.
I want to give you some ideas to think about during this time, however. When my wife and I were doing activism in 2012 against Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, we had a large group discussion with a mixed group of these women and members of the transgender and queer communities. My wife, who is also a Buddhist, went around the room and said the following to each person there, regardless of what they thought of her, a transgender woman:
“I love you unconditionally and I surrender to your compassion.”
I now say this to all of you: I love you all unconditionally, and surrender to your compassion. We come from very diverse backgrounds. We have very different ideas about what progressive Christianity is and is not. We have very different ideas about how even the Progressive Christian Alliance is supposed to be run. This is a horrific time for people who care about our fellow human beings. There are so many things that are just wrong with the world right now.
But there is one thing I’ve observed, especially online, and it’s that the progressive world is forgetting compassion. That in our grief and anger we have forgotten that there are human beings at the other end of the screen. Human beings that screw up, say stupid things, and don’t do things the way *you* think they should. What saddens me is that there is a lot of verbal abuse that has deemed to be “ok” in the name of progressive thought. There is no one way to be progressive. Many of us have come out of churches that subscribed to the One True Way idea, and I ask you, friends, when did that kind of thinking become “ok” and “right” in progressive circles?
My teacher, Bishop Yvette Flunder of City of Refuge Church in Oakland, CA, taught me that radical inclusion doesn’t mean that a group doesn’t have boundaries. We need the boundaries to keep group cohesion and for the safety of the group. Our Covenant, which applies to all of our online groups, is our agreement with all of you that you will make our groups a safer place to talk about our Christian beliefs, regardless of how your path manifests. She also taught me to have grace and compassion for those who mess up, who don’t make the mark, or, in some circles, “sin” because, while you may have a boundary that leaves them out of shared space, it doesn’t mean you can’t be compassionate and help them to where they need to be.
However, our group is not static, and the covenant is a dynamic document. If you have suggestions on how to make it better, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments you’d like to make. If you’d like to talk to me personally about the groups, or PCA as a whole, I am always available via email at email@example.com.
The Leadership Council is trying hard to shore up the foundations of the PCA so we can do more for all of you, clergy and laity. It may not seem like enough at the moment, since there’s so much injustice going on, but you can’t support a stone house when your foundation is made out of toothpicks. We are striving to make a foundation out of stone so that we *can* be able to fight the good fight and do much more than we have in the past.
But I ask you all for your patience, and most of all, I again surrender to your compassion. We all take Jesus as our inspiration and center of faith. If he could show compassion for Mary Magdalene, for Judas, and even for those who tortured and killed him, we can certainly find compassion for each other. We are, after all, Christians, are we not?
I love you all unconditionally, and I surrender to your compassion.
In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
Rev. Gina Pond
Interim Leadership Council Chair