The Art of Hosting: Conversations that matter
The Task Force for Re-imagining the diocese asked me to help invite the participants in this year’s diocesan convention to embody the connection they called for in their report. In their report, the Task Force challenged the diocese to build relationships, cultivate trust and seek places for sharing stories and best practices. They also asked if Diocesan Convention should be more relational and how our commissions and structures can support the connections that already exist.
On the first day of our 140th Convention, we gathered in conversation groups to practice engaging in the conversations that matter most to us. Convention attendees shared what they felt were the most important issues we should be discussing. Those answers ranged from questions of discipleship – how do we follow Jesus – to questions of our life together, our call to work for justice and how to grow our church.
After this initial conversation, we re-gathered in our conversation groups on Saturday morning following the Eucharist and participated in a World Café conversation. World Café is a facilitated method by which large groups of people can talk with one another about questions that matter. Conversations are held in multiple rounds as people change tables, share their previous conversations and explore new questions together. World Café invites people to listen to one another rather than advocate for a particular perspective or outcome.
During the World Café, we began to discuss the question the bishop asked during his convention address: “What connections and collaborations already exist?” We also discussed what holds us back from deeper connection and what possibilities do we see. The results of these conversations will be shared with the diocese in the next few weeks.
We also hope that congregations and communities in the diocese will begin to host similar conversations in their local areas. Tools and coaching for how to host these kinds of gatherings are available upon request, and links will be posted on the diocesan website. If you would like to continue to be part of engaging in these kinds of conversations to deepen our connections with one another and work on future collaborations, email the Rev. Jane Gerdsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOME QUOTES FROM COMMENT CARDS:
- “Our connections are limited only by imagination”
- “The amount of working together that is already going on in communities all over the diocese and the readiness to share stories and try new ways of working in groups.”
- “Getting the whole community involved – not just church groups. Spreading the load makes people aware of needs in their community and how they can help”
- “We need to get to know our neighbors”
- “There are many examples of collaborations and common activities already out there. Share and learn from one another.”