Courageous Spaces / Gracious Conversations

This Great Idea stems from an EcoFaith Summit 2024 workshop led by Tammy Walhoff, Director of Lutheran Advocacy of Minnesota. The Summit: Cross+Currents in the Flood: Building Arcs Together for a Livable Planet set out to, ‘build arcs of relationship connecting generations, crossing boundaries, and healing divisions’ so that we might, ‘become the Ark necessary for a shared future, for a livable planet’.

But this is more than a ‘Great Idea’.

It is a plea, a prayer, an exhortation: the world needs Christian communities to intentionally engage divisive issues. The planet desperately needs more courageous spaces for more gracious conversations: places where people can speak their truth and hear the truth of others on all the topics that threaten to destroy us. The globe needs spaces where individuals can make ‘contact’.

The Rev. Bronwen Boswell, Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), urges Presbyterians to ‘stay in relationship with one another, regardless of differing opinions’, in this (3.5 minute) March 26, 2024, video, We Live in Volatile Times.

In preparation for co-leading the workshop, ‘Graceful Conversations: Building Arcs across Divided Perspectives’, The Ministry Lab created a toolkit of resources: intergenerational reading, video, trainings, curricula, and more – for congregational leaders and groups to utilize in preparation for and in convening Courageous Spaces: Congregations that Listen, Lament, and Repair.*

We hope and pray folx will avail themselves of these curated resources to support congregational spaces of ‘contact’, as Scott Janssen writes in his blog post, ‘I work with dying Trump supporters. It’s…confusing.

Janssen is a North Carolina hospice social worker who reflects humbly and honestly about the varied mindsets that prevent thoughtful, open engagement with people who hold different political affiliations or policy interests. His post is a great introduction and a place to start the ‘whys’ of creating more courageous spaces.

For resources in ‘how’, visit Braver Angels. While their mission and language is specifically political, their tactic and teaching can be parsed for use in numerous settings and applications.

Or, reach out to Tammy Walhoff or Emily Meyer: we’re happy to facilitate a conversation or two.

Please, check out the toolkit. Talk with Tammy. Visit the Braver Angels website. Whatever can be done to create more Courageous Spaces and Gracious Conversations: this is one of the most driving needs of our times. We’re here to support any and all who want to heed the call.

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*This toolkit is made freely available by the generosity of the Minnesota Conference UCC, the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, PCUSA, and the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, whose regular support makes The Ministry Lab possible. If you find this toolkit useful, please consider a donation or a subscription membership to The Ministry Lab and support future resource creation.