Unity Of Purpose

By: Barbara Hart Yorks, 18 Market Street, Lewisburg, PA 17837. (Connected to First Presbyterian Church, Lewisburg.) Barbara is also a retired United Methodist pastor who has served a variety of church settings over the past 40 years.


Formally incarcerated individuals face many obstacles in life upon their release from prison. In the past, many of us have used terms or labels, that often foster a negative image of a person who may already have one step down upon returning to their home or establishing a new residence in our community. A returning citizen is far more enhancing than perhaps ex‑con, felon, fugitive, or on probation, etc.

I share the above to affirm that political involvement is a significant freedom, opportunity, and responsibility that we need to take seriously. However, there are higher considerations.

Numerous surveys will affirm that the exodus from the church and institutions of faith has been rapid and extensive. While rejection of absolutes, diversity of viewpoints, and suspicion of organizations may be factors, I think the bottom line is elsewhere. Our emphasis has been on who is right, and the determining factor seems to be who speaks (or yells) the loudest or who has the most clout. My mother used to say, “win an argument; lose a friend.” She meant that I might achieve victory in getting someone to parrot my viewpoint, but the caring and understanding of a previously healthy friendship would be lost.

Our country and world are facing devastating challenges. There are many persons with differing ideologies and practices who can help solve the current crises. But if our energy is focused on which party or denomination or individual has the sole answer, we will continue to be mired in division.

I have had the opportunity to witness community unity of purpose in a very personal way this year. As noted in an earlier column, my granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia in June. Her prognosis is very good. But the road has been challenging, and she continues in treatment. Meanwhile her neighbors, family, friends, and parents’ coworkers continue to come together to support her in concrete ways.

Neighborhood children organized a lemonade stand and raised funds. A friend of my daughter’s gave Isabel a beautiful quilt, an area blood drive took place in her honor, and Four Diamonds gave funds and recognized her at a high school football game. The list continues. People have come together in a dramatic way to support a young child facing a health challenge.

We can hope for a return to faith and unity in our political process if we focus on taking responsibility, working for restorative outcomes, and prioritizing what is best for all rather than what divides. The election is very soon this month, and many political options lie ahead. Let’s take responsibility with the attitude of servants and celebrate the opportunities we have to work together for the greater good.