It’s Not a Room Full of Danas | By Dana Lede

Before writing I should probably introduce myself because most people won’t know me. My name is Dana and I’m a middle school teacher by day, secret UMC nerd by night.

Sometimes I wonder why people worry about debate at plenary every year (or focus sessions for that matter). I mean, either the legislation is horrible and should be voted down or it’s amazing and should most definitely be approved, right? But then I remember that we aren’t in a room full of Danas, we are in a room full of diverse, interesting people who have different life experiences and ideas. And that makes things much more complicated. Here’s the issue: Sometimes, every once in awhile, I tend to get a little heated.

I am very passionate about my beliefs, but I must remember that so are other people, who may also have different beliefs than mine. Having a healthy debate with someone forces me to clearly define my stance and could either strengthen my belief or change it. This only works though, if I can empathize with others’ views, understanding where they are coming from even if I don’t agree.

I want to challenge myself and everyone else at Conference this weekend to focus on that word: EMPATHY. When listening to points with which you disagree, try to empathize with the person speaking. I promise it will only either strengthen your opinion or let you see a different perspective. Let us strive for grace in all that we do, in all of our conversations today!

Dana is a member of Kent UMC.


  1. Beautifully written Dana. So nice to see your name in print and know that you are doing well. Your leadership in this issue obviously comes from the heart and from that wonderful experience in a middle school classroom.

    I hope everyone is listening to her wisdom and follows her lead.

  2. I was sitting near you this morning as we continued to debate the weapons-free zone issue. I thank you for your courageous stand, for opening the door to the many conversations that will now be held in our churches by virtue of the legislation that was written, even though it ended up being referred back to committee. Be assured that conversation will be held in my church. (I’m chair of ad council, so I get to do that!) And thank you for setting an example of respectful dialogue for all of us to follow.

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