Cultivating Purple Church: Equipping Church Leaders to Lead Politically Diverse Congregations as a Radical Act of Loving Our Neighbors and Restoring the Beloved Community

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2025-12-13

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2023

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Abstract

This thesis identifies the local Protestant church as an intentionally purple space and demonstrates that the Church is positioned to bridge differences. Purple churches are one of the last trusted institutions where everyday people gather. The local congregation is one of the social institutions to equipped to confront division. Our culture will continue to hemorrhage decency and churches will atrophy unless Protestant church leaders focus on bringing our communities back together. My thesis argues that practices of sharing sacraments and rituals together, while also supporting deliberative and democratic habits, serve as the civic function of teaching congregations learn how to address and overcome the polarization characterizing our nation. I contend that purple churches are doing the excruciating and challenging work of whispering hope into this desecrated and shattered moment in our human experience. While it takes a few hours to burn a house to the ground or chop down a tree, it takes a great deal of intention, struggle, and investment to build a community of wholeness out of the ashes of our current political landscape. This is the work of purple churches. My thesis will offer tools to strengthen the purple churches that exist in every town across the U.S. and a blueprint for building a purple church culture within existing protestant churches who face political divisions and struggles among membership. Finally, my thesis also explores stories from scripture that support the work of purple churches and of congregations seeking unity without uniformity.

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Taylor Peck, Sarah Kathleen Duignan (2023). Cultivating Purple Church: Equipping Church Leaders to Lead Politically Diverse Congregations as a Radical Act of Loving Our Neighbors and Restoring the Beloved Community. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29524.

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