Published by Judson Press, 158 pages; $14.00
The church is widely viewed as the single strongest institution in the African American community. Lora-Ellen McKinney in her new book, Getting to Amen, writes, ”As a place of healing and hope, the black church has always purposefully sought to move its people beyond defensive postures.” Yet today’s social issues are pitting parishioners against each other or against preachers as churches grapple with, or try to ignore, issues of female leadership in the church, homesexuality, politics in the pulpit, splits within denominations, and more.
Lora-Ellen writes, ”I began to get some strong hints of the problem resulting from unmanaged conflict while conducting research for my book, View from the Pew: What Preachers Can Learn from Parishioner, and in the reports I typically receive during workshops I conduct around my book, Christian Education in the African American Church: A Guide for Teaching Truth.
The daughter of a preacher, Lora-Ellen is a psychologist who has worked in conflict management with the Harvard Negotiation Project and John Paul Lederach’s international model of peaceful negotiation. By postulating the ”8 P’s”, from Prayer to Promise, she sets forth a flexible strategy for churches to apply in addressing conflicts. And, drawing on church members’ shared Christian values, she advocates maintaining one’s civility: ”Keep in mind the goal that others will see God in you.”