A Summer Campaign of Relational Meetings

A Summer Campaign of Relational Meetings

Sunday, June 26, over almost 20 people stayed after church (after a long service with Noelle’s baptism and special music) to learn about the importance of 1 on 1 relational meetings.

It’s part of an effort to learn more about community organizing and P.O.W.E.R.– Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild. This new organization brings together people of faith– across all the lines that often keep us divided, Protestant/Catholic, Black/White/Hispanic/Asian, Christian/Jewish/Muslim– to work on the concerns that our various traditions share in common. Together, P.O.W.E.R. preaches, we can make many things happen so that our city works better for all its residents, especially its most vulnerable.

In September, at a specially called Congregational Meeting, Old First will decide whether or not it wants to join with other churches, synagogues and mosques across this city to become a strong advocate for change.

1 on 1 meetings are the backbone of community organizing. Where the power to change the political culture of this city comes from… the power to give a voice to “the broad middle of row home Philly”…the power to take on the agendas of business or government or any institution that is not meeting the needs of the people.

1 on 1s will also help us at Old First identify the concerns that people in our congregation are passionate about. And they will strengthen this church community, especially in our concern for helping all our newcomers find their place among us.

Imagine the difference that over 70 relational meetings before Labor Day will make — forging new connections in the web of relations that uphold individual members and empowers this whole community?

72 relational meetings have been committed to by 13 people in our church. Michael is hoping a few more will get on board. It’s not too late to say you want to be involved.

Right now, the “meeting conveners” are mapping who all they hope to talk to; the point is to include as many people in our campaign as possible. We hope to get started with our meetings within the next week.

What’s a 1 on 1? It’s a 40 minute conversation, a dialogue between two people. It differs from other conversations in that it tries to identify the passions people hold about changes they’d like to see in the world around them.

Often, because there is no obvious means to work for change, people do not share what they feel or hope for. Or what makes them really angry. A 1 on 1 tries to bring those kinds of hopes and passions and even anger to the surface.

For this reason, 1 on 1s often go deeper faster than everyday conversations that tend to stay on the surface, and do not ask what we care about most.

A 1 on 1 also differs because it asks “why” more often than “what.” It can be bold and direct about asking after motivations (believing that empowered people can always say “No,” …that they do not wish to answer anything that they do not wish to answer!)

1 on 1s also encourage us to identify and share our “dangerous memories,” those personal stories that illustrate why we are passionate about some hope, or why we are so angry about certain situations.

At the end of a 1 on 1, both people should know a bit more about themselves and each other, and the world we live in. It’s also customary at the end of such a meeting, to ask “would you meet with me again,” and “is there anyone else you think I should talk to?”

So don’t be surprised if Alice, Beth, Bruce, Jo, Julius, Margaret, Marjorie, Marta, Michael, Mindy, Peter, Rochelle, Steve or someone else contacts you and asks if you would meet with them for a 1 on 1.

Whether or not you are interested in getting involved in P.O.W.E.R., engaging in a 1 on 1 will help us better know our own community and help to strengthen this church. At the end of the summer campaign of 1 on 1s, the people who held relational meetings will meet to discuss in general what they learned, who else they might speak with, and any next steps that have become obvious.

If you have any questions, please feel free to speak with Michael or any of the people who are participating in the summer campaign of meetings.