Adult Forum 10.06: Creating Safe Space for Diversity and Dissent

Adult Forum 10.06: Creating Safe Space for Diversity and Dissent

The Adult Forum meets weekly in the Social Hall at 10 a.m. It’s our regular adult Christian Education offering. Keep on the look out for a longer range list of those offerings: Margaret, our YASC Community Minister who is organizing the Adult Forum this year, plans to share that schedule soon.

This Sunday, Michael will be leading the Adult Forum. This is a follow-up to the organizing conversation that he and Margaret held two weeks ago.

As they asked people what they have enjoyed and what they might look forward to at Adult Forum, it was clear people want chances to participate and share. They like to learn new things, to be challenged, but not so much in a lecture-format.

Instead, they’d rather get invited into a conversation that stretches everyone with the breadth of different experiences, opinions and passions that are gathered in the people of Old First.

But in those reflections two weeks ago, Margaret and Michael also heard about the few times where disagreements overpowered discussions. Everyone acknowledged that for there to be free and open sharing, people need to feel safe, and respected and heard, even when there are differ.

So this week, Michael is going to try and lead some exercises as we develop guidelines for creating such safe space. Or navigating our way through the differing opinions that we want to make room for and learn by.

He’s hoping that he can create a series of role plays or situations that he will invite people into — examples of where we sometimes get in trouble and our discussions feel less than safe. People will be asked to work in pairs or small groups, but to change partners for each exercise. (Sort of like the “speed-dating” format that we have used in the past for community-building exercises, except that the situations he’s going to give are going to be a bit more complex and take more time… so it might end up “slow four-somes”!)

And from those experiences, he hopes that the group can set some guidelines that, remembering, will help the Adult Forum, to invite us all into sharing, hearing and growing…

On Sundays, everyone who comes to church for Sunday School gathers in the Social Hall at 9:45 a.m. There’s a brief gathering devotional, and then the various folks separate for the various classes. Join them– it’s a great way to get to know people better and to hear what the classes are going to be doing.