Considering Grace: Presbyterians and the Troubles

Considering Grace: Presbyterians and the Troubles, co-authored with Jamie Yohanis (Merrion Press, 2019)

Considering Grace records the deeply moving stories of 120 ordinary people’s experiences of the Troubles, exploring how faith shaped their responses to violence and its aftermath.

The result of a research project commissioned by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the book is the first to capture such a full range of experiences of the Troubles of people from a Protestant background.

Presbyterian ministers, victims, members of the security forces, emergency responders, healthcare workers and ‘critical friends’ of the Presbyterian tradition are among those to provide insights on wider human experiences of anger, pain, healing, and forgiveness.

It also includes the perspectives of women and people from border counties and features leading public figures, such as former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, and former Victims Commissioner Bertha McDougall.

Considering Grace contributes to the process of ‘dealing with the past’ by pointing towards the need for a ‘gracious remembering’ that acknowledges suffering, is self-critical about the past, and creates space for lament, but also for the future.

Order Considering Grace here.

The Presbyterian Church has produced a study resource to accompany the book, written by Dave Thompson. Order your free copy here.

The Considering Grace video page features short clips of some contributors to the book, from both inside and outside Presbyterianism, including the late Seamus Mallon, Dr Nicola Brady, Rev John Hutchinson, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Dr Geraldine Smyth OP, Danny Kennedy, Sean Murray, Stewart Dickson, and Bishop Trevor Williams. It also includes the full recording of an online conference, ‘Considering Grace: Unpacking the Impact’.

U105 Interview with Rev Terry Laverty, whose story inspired the title of the book:

Comments about the book:

This fine book contributes to the literature that tries to enable us to emerge with humanity from the darkness. – From the Foreword by journalist Susan McKay

… one of the most important works to be published about the conflict in recent years. It is by turn, harrowing, deeply moving, sharply critical of the church, yet somehow infused with hope for the future, holding out glimpses of how healing might be achieved. – Nick Garbutt, ScopeNI Editor

[An] impressive and courageous book. – Marianne Elliott, Professor Emerita, Liverpool University, writing in the Irish Times

It would be my prayer for everyone who pores over the pages of the book that lessons can be learned and a new pathway to peace and shared living forged. – From the Afterword by  Alan McBride, peace campaigner and manager of the WAVE Trauma Centre 

This work is extraordinarily hope-filled precisely because is grounded in the hard realities and the hurts that people have lived through and continue to live with. – Dr Nicola Brady, General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches

Engagement with this book can be a grace-filled opportunity for all of us. – Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown

Reviews and Media Coverage:

‘Church deserves crediting for offering one way of dealing with the past’, Fr Martin Magill, Belfast Telegraph (27 March 2021)

Review in Irish Political Studies by Graham Spencer (published online 18 March 2021)

Thoughts on ‘Considering Grace: Presbyterians and the Troubles’, Patrick Mitchel, Faith in Ireland blog (29 December 2020)

Review by David Steers, Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review

‘Church Reaches out to those hurt by the Troubles’, The News Letter, print only (5 December 2020)

‘Christian Perspective of Legacy Issues is Examined’, The Belfast Telegraph (4 December 2020)

Legacy: New PCI Resource Launched, Press release about the launch of study resources for Considering Grace (3 December 2020)

Legacy: Virtual Conference Discusses Real Issues, Press release about the conference on Considering Grace (3 December 2020)

‘Unpacking the Impact of the Troubles’, The Irish News (3 December 2020)

Considering Grace: A Conversation Interrupted by Rev Tony Davidson, in advance of conference on Considering Grace (27 November 2020) 

Considering Grace: Unpacking the Impact – Press release about conference on Considering Grace, also covered in the News Letter (11 March 2020)

The Irish Catholic coverage of ‘Considering Grace – with Bishop Donal McKeown’ at the 4 Corners Festival (13 February 2020)

Coverage of ‘Considering Grace – with Bishop Donal McKeown’ at the 4 Corners Festival (10 February 2020)

‘Grace in the Cracks’ by Rev Tony Davidson (30 January 2020)

‘Grace is our pathway to doing the right thing every day’, The Irish Times (28 January 2020)

Book Review by Rev Steve Stockman

Book Review by Rev David Campton

Feature interview with Terry Laverty (3 January 2020) Belfast Telegraph/Press Association

Irish Times Review by Marianne Elliott (28 December 2019 print, 2 January 2020 online)

‘Religion and the Troubles’ Review on ScopeNI by Nick Garbutt (28 November 2019)

Remarks by David Bolton at the Enniskillen Launch (27 November 2019)

How Northern Ireland’s Presbyterians Remember the Troubles on RTE Brainstorm (27 November 2019)

‘Considering Grace’ as ‘Being with the Troubles’, sermon by Rev Steve Stockman (17 November 2019)

Five extracts from ‘Considering Grace’ in the Belfast Telegraph (16 November 2019)

Belfast Telegraph feature on ‘Considering Grace’ (16 November 2019)

Review on ‘Over the Wall’ blog by Dave Thompson (15 November 2019)

“Helen’s Story” – the story of  GP who worked along the border, featured in the News Letter (12 November 2019)

Irish News Review by William Scholes (8 November 2019)

Coverage of the L/Derry launch on Derry Now (7 November 2019)

“Craig’s Story” – the story of a former RUC man featured in the News Letter (7 November 2019)

Remarks by Catholic Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown at the L/Derry launch (6 November 2019)

Report on the Belfast book launch in the News Letter, including excerpt from book (6 November 2019)

Coverage of the Belfast book launch on Slugger O’Toole (6 November 2019)

Advance coverage of the Ballymena launch in the Ballymena Guardian (5 November 2019)

Remarks by Dr Nicola Brady of the Irish Council of Churches at the Belfast launch (5 November 2019)

Press Association/Belfast Telegraph report on the Belfast launch (5 November 2019)

Report on the Belfast launch by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (5 November 2019)

Sunday Sequence interview with Rev William Henry, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, and Gladys Ganiel (27 October 2019)

Feature in the Presbyterian Herald by Ruth Sanderson (4 October 2019)


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