Courageous Conversations isa seminary-wide initiativecreating safe, confidential,and sacred spaces for hearingone another’s stories.
Through circles of opensharing, respectful listening,and committed presence,Courageous Conversationsoffers opportunities fordeepening trust and caringamong all who make up theSeminary’s diverse community.
Being united in Christ through faith does notmean that differences will be erased. Rather,ethnic and other categories (economic, genderidentity, etc.) are no longer definitive of ouridentities.
"There is neitherJew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV)
This verse isnot a call to erase ethnic, class, gender identityand many other forms of diversity in an absolutesense. Rather, it is a call to break down anyexisting barriers and inequalities between them.We ask God to grant us wisdom and courage toconfront these situations and our own sins, andthe failures of our community in love and with aspirit of humility and compassion.
Conversation and dialogue is the core component ofNavigating the Waters program logic and strategy.Using clips from films, articles by practitioners,news clippings, etc., as catalysts, we facilitateconversations between participants.
When participants dialogue productively about raceat a personal level, it can open insights, challengeassumptions, and facilitate healing.
What will we gain by engaging inCourageous Conversations?
Courageous Conversations on race, power, privilege,stereotypes, and justice, provide a new opportunityto nurture truth-telling relationships with peoplecommitted to change.
Race is a very broad subject. How do wedecide what this conversation should looklike in our Seminary?
Courageous Conversations are an opportunity toshine a light on both the problem and the promise—past and present. Chances are, there are people inour Seminary community who have stories to shareabout the damage racism has inflicted and thespiritual power that comes with resisting and healingthis damage.
Is conversation enough? Isn’t it moreimportant to work for institutional change?
Courageous Conversations are not intended tobegin and end with words alone. Neither is itintended to be a program that simply imparts newinformation and knowledge about race, power,privilege, stereotypes, and justice. Personal andsocial transformation are the ultimate goals. As newinsights are gleaned, Courageous Conversations canprovide a context for people to challenge themselves and each other to ask: now that we understandthis aspect of racism more fully, what are wegoing to do about it?
What if our Courageous Conversations stirup feelings that prove hurtful to some?
Talking openly and honestly about race can bechallenging. Confronting the impact of racismon our lives, our communities, and our nationis difficult work. It requires openness of mindand heart, as well as humility of spirit, to riskdiscovering things about ourselves and the worldwe may not have known before. Along the way, wemay very well encounter feelings in ourselves orothers that are potentially hurtful: defensiveness,resistance, anger, self-righteousness, andmoralizing. Skilled facilitators can help usacknowledge and deal with these feelings whenthey surface in destructive ways. They can inviteus to engage in the emotional and spiritual worknecessary to heal from hurt or misunderstanding.
What happens if we get bogged down orfeel overwhelmed by these conversations?
The responsibility for safeguarding thetrust and the community that is being createdmust be shared by everyone taking part inthe conversation. Facilitators cannot do thisalone; the entire group needs to covenanttogether to stay with the process and workthrough times of tension and growth.
By sharing this responsibility, the possibilityof authentic relationships across differencewill 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.