Courageous Conversations is
a seminary-wide initiative
creating safe, confidential,
and sacred spaces for hearing
one another’s stories.
Through circles of open
sharing, respectful listening,
and committed presence,
offers opportunities for
deepening trust and caring
among all who make up the
Seminary’s diverse community.
Being united in Christ through faith does not
mean that differences will be erased. Rather,
ethnic and other categories (economic, gender
identity, etc.) are no longer definitive of our
"There is neither
Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV)
This verse is
not a call to erase ethnic, class, gender identity
and many other forms of diversity in an absolute
sense. Rather, it is a call to break down any
existing barriers and inequalities between them.
We ask God to grant us wisdom and courage to
confront these situations and our own sins, and
the failures of our community in love and with a
spirit of humility and compassion.
Conversation and dialogue is the core component of
Navigating the Waters program logic and strategy.
Using clips from films, articles by practitioners,
news clippings, etc., as catalysts, we facilitate
conversations between participants.
When participants dialogue productively about race
at a personal level, it can open insights, challenge
assumptions, and facilitate healing.
What will we gain by engaging in
Courageous Conversations on race, power, privilege,
stereotypes, and justice, provide a new opportunity
to nurture truth-telling relationships with people
committed to change.
Race is a very broad subject. How do we
decide what this conversation should look
like in our Seminary?
Courageous Conversations are an opportunity to
shine a light on both the problem and the promise—
past and present. Chances are, there are people in
our Seminary community who have stories to share
about the damage racism has inflicted and the
spiritual power that comes with resisting and healing
Is conversation enough? Isn’t it more
important to work for institutional change?
Courageous Conversations are not intended to
begin and end with words alone. Neither is it
intended to be a program that simply imparts new
information and knowledge about race, power,
privilege, stereotypes, and justice. Personal and
social transformation are the ultimate goals. As new
insights are gleaned, Courageous Conversations can
provide a context for people to challenge themselves and each other to ask: now that we understand
this aspect of racism more fully, what are we
going to do about it?
What if our Courageous Conversations stir
up feelings that prove hurtful to some?
Talking openly and honestly about race can be
challenging. Confronting the impact of racism
on our lives, our communities, and our nation
is difficult work. It requires openness of mind
and heart, as well as humility of spirit, to risk
discovering things about ourselves and the world
we may not have known before. Along the way, we
may very well encounter feelings in ourselves or
others that are potentially hurtful: defensiveness,
resistance, anger, self-righteousness, and
moralizing. Skilled facilitators can help us
acknowledge and deal with these feelings when
they surface in destructive ways. They can invite
us to engage in the emotional and spiritual work
necessary to heal from hurt or misunderstanding.
What happens if we get bogged down or
feel overwhelmed by these conversations?
The responsibility for safeguarding the
trust and the community that is being created
must be shared by everyone taking part in
the conversation. Facilitators cannot do this
alone; the entire group needs to covenant
together to stay with the process and work
through times of tension and growth.
By sharing this responsibility, the possibility
of authentic relationships across difference
will be nourished and enacted.
We encourage participation in these small group conversations from all members of the Seminary community. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to contribute with your experiences and broaden your own perspectives with fellow Seminary residents, alumnae/i, and community leaders.
During the month of April we will provide orientation and training for new Courageous Conversations Facilitators to assume responsibilities in the fall semester. If you wish to be an active member of the Cohort of Facilitators, please contact the Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo, Jr. directly at email@example.com.