Considering Grace: Presbyterians and the Troubles


Gladys Ganiel and Jamie Yohanis

Foreword by Susan McKay

September 2019

First book to consider how ordinary people’s religious faith shaped their responses to the Troubles.


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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. Presbyterian ministers, victims, members of the security forces, those affected by loyalist paramilitarism, ex-combatants, emergency responders and health-care workers, peacemakers, politicians, people who left Presbyterianism and ‘critical friends’ of the Presbyterian tradition provide insights on wider human experiences of anger, pain, healing, and forgiveness.

The first book to capture such a full range of experiences of the Troubles of people from a Protestant background, 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.

Table of Contents


  1. Ministers
  2. Victims
  3. Security Forces
  4. Those Affected by Loyalist Paramilitarism
  5. Emergency Responders & Health Care Workers
  6. Quiet Peacemakers
  7. Politicians
  8. Those Who Left Presbyterianism
  9. Critical Friends
  10. Considering Grace? Responding to the Present



About the Authors

Gladys Ganiel is a sociologist of religion at Queen’s University Belfast. Her previous books include Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland; Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland; Unity Pilgrim: The Life of Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR; and The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity, with Gerardo Marti.

Jamie Yohanis focuses on the intersection of confessional faith and state-funded education.

Praise for Considering Grace: Presbyterians and the Troubles

‘This fine book contributes to the literature that tries to enable us to emerge with humanity from the darkness.’
Susan McKay

‘Impressive and courageous’
Marianne Elliott, The Irish Times

Considering Grace is well worth engaging with, particularly for those who want to understand and participate in peacemaking in Ireland…undoubtedly this examination of Presbyterian thought, theology and response to the Troubles is all the more valuable for giving voice to such a significant yet frequently overlooked or misunderstood faith tradition.’
David Steers, Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review