On any given vote, each presbytery comes out red or blue. Within each presbytery, though, all shades of opinion are represented. Every presbytery, in each part of the country, has a dissenting minority. The whole presbytery is well served by being civil in their disagreements. Civility is a virtue in itself. And in the good American tradition of understanding that our self-interest is best served by helping society, smart competitors realize that today's victorious majority can become tomorrow's dissenting minority.
The Ecclesiology committee considered the PUP report all day Friday. The most hopeful word came from people in divided presbyteries who reported that their arguments became more civil and less hurtful after they adopted some of the discernment, consensus, and simple listening methods that Task Force members had brought to them.
San Francisco is one the most liberal presbyteries, especially on the homosexual ordination issue, yet that body has a strong conservative minority which threatens to bolt. Cincinnati Presbytery, on the other hand, had a well-known case in the church of a dissident liberal congregation that had to be disciplined by the presbytery for defying the constitution. Both were places where feelings were running high. In both cases, people who were strong partisans on the contested issues nonetheless came to thank the Task Force for helping them stay together and argue more civilly.
There do, of course, need to be serious limits to dissent and opposition on both sides. But a broad middle that is committed to staying together in order to perpetually compete is the only viable future for the denomination.
The whole church is purple, and is going to stay that way.