Talking Together: Embracing Diversity in our Communities
Goal: This workshop is designed to make connections between individuals, to build bridges between congregations of different ethnic backgrounds, and to undertake together a service project in the community. The process begins with conversation and leads to action.
Curriculum: This workshop has been developed by the Commission on Inclusiveness of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA.) It draws on resources from both the ELCA and Everyday Democracy (formerly Study Circles) and the collective experience of the members of the Commission.
Facilitators: The workshop facilitators are members of the Commission on Inclusiveness and other persons of faith who have participated in the workshop’s development and been trained in its facilitation. Facilitation teams are diverse in gender and ethnic background.
Planning: The planning for this workshop is done by leaders from two or more sponsoring congregations, each of which represents a predominantly different ethnic background (for example: one predominantly Anglo/Caucasian, one Latino and one African American.) The congregations are responsible for recruiting participants, setting workshop time and location, and providing lunch and other refreshments and arrangements for the closing service of Holy Communion.
Format: Between 10 and 12 participants are recruited from among the sponsoring congregations (or their surrounding community). The workshop group consists of persons of diverse ethnic backgrounds, as evenly divided among the congregations involved as possible. We begin on Friday evening with introductory prayer and devotion on the theme of God’s love for all people. We set some ground rules for the conversation in order to ensure a safe place for our work. Then we begin to make connections by sharing our stories, practicing listening, and talking about our experiences with race and racism in our lives. We close with prayer.
On Saturday morning we open with prayer and continue sharing, listening and learning about one another’s experience of racism and culture; also we explore some of the inequities in our society and how they might be affected by race. We look at some specific census data about the area in which we live.
We then move into the action phase of the process by beginning to look at our particular community and trying to identify some of the situations that we think might benefit from the attention of a group like ours. How might we work together to bring God’s love in action to bear on a specific situation in our community? The group spends some time brainstorming on possible projects. Finally, the group decides on a project on which to work together. The project could be as simple as committing to clean up a playground or as complex as organizing for a long term effort to make a neighborhood safer. Possibly some of the group will choose to involve other members of their faith communities in the project, but it could also be an effort simply for this small group. It may be an ongoing effort, or a one-time event. Next steps are agreed upon; a time is set for at least one more meeting.
The workshop ends with a service of Holy Communion.
Cost: Travel expenses for the workshop facilitators.
Please contact The Rev. Mark Buchan, Convener of the Inclusiveness Network at 803-931-3083 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information or to start plans to bring this workshop to your congregation.