In March, we learned that our Developmental Minister would be leaving the congregation in a few months, and shortly thereafter, our Director of Religious Education announced her resignation. We already knew that our Intern Minister’s tenure would conclude in June. These turnovers signaled disruption for a church that had endured tumultuous transitions in the recent past. Accordingly, the Right Relations Team implemented two interventions with the goals of taking the temperature of church members and offering an opportunity to process these changes.
The first effort was to begin developing our survey that was administered in May and June, the results of which will be discussed in a subsequent article.
The next step we took was to host a Healthy Congregation Listening Circle: Transitioning in Love and Hope, on a Thursday night in April. Over two hours, folks of varying age and length of time in the church spoke emotionally about their confusion and disappointment, as well as about their hopes for the future. The participants listened with compassion and metaphorically held each other in their distress. This Circle was succeeded by one that followed a Sunday service in June, boasting an even larger attendance, and allowing fellow church members to provide unconditional support through active listening. Circle participants’ feelings, observations and experiences about staff departures varied widely, but many expressed a similar sense of relief in having a forum in which to voice their perspectives.
On Sunday, July 21, after the service, we hope you will consider joining us at our third Listening Circle addressing the staff transitions.
The Right Relations Team is also pleased to announce a new series, the Healthy Congregation InterGroup Dialogues Across Difference. The InterGroup Dialogues will establish contained and respectful spaces for congregants to discuss topics about which they may passionately disagree. Whereas during Circles we listened deeply and honored each others’ perspectives without offering responses, InterGroup Dialogues encourage thoughtful replies directed to more thoroughly understanding each other. The goal is not to debate, nor to change each other’s minds, nor even to come to an agreement, but rather to truly appreciate one another despite our differences – to accept the inherent worth of another’s viewpoint, and in so doing to uphold the dignity of our fellow congregants.
The first InterGroup Dialogue will take place on Sunday, August 18 after service, from noon to 2pm. The topic will be Dialogues Across Difference: Are We What We Eat?