Churches’ awards for Civil Dialogue

Churches’ awards for Civil Dialogue

(Article with pictures HERE)

Churches’ awards for Civil Dialogue come in the midst of electoral discord
In the midst of the current electoral discord, some Christians and other people of faith are asking “Is the divisiveness in the US affecting the churches more than the churches are affecting the divisiveness?” We want to show the culture the better way referred to in scripture, “instead, speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). To encourage such efforts, the Kentucky Council of Churches gave three awards this year for good work in the area of Civil Dialogue.

Dialogue between Catholics and Disciples

Revs. Rick Loader, Sally McClain and Joe Graffis
Five Roman Catholics and five members of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ are continuing a practice of regular dialogue that began almost 40 years ago in Louisville. Before taking on the most sensitive topics, they began by learning each other’s histories, personal and denominational. Then they talked about similarities and differences that were not too sensitive. Finally, they took on the most division-causing topics, sometimes called “life” issues. Even after so much groundwork had been laid, these topics were explosive for them. And so they took two years to do more disciplined listening to each other. Accepting the award for all the participants were the Rev. Joe Graffis of St. Edward Catholic parish in Jeffersontown and the Rev. Sally McClain, retired pastor of Edenside Christian Church. A link to Graffis and McClain’s personal remarks at the award ceremony is here.

Episcopalians in Dialogue about Coal

Rev. Elise Johnstone with Rev. Shanks and Dr. McLaughlin
Energy issues, and especially the place of coal, often seem too hot to touch in Kentucky. The leadership team of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington has adapted a process they call “Holy Conversations” to make the coal topic touchable. They begin the dialogue process with a review of principles of good dialogue, distinguishing it from debate. Then they provide an overview of energy issues, focusing on the questions of who benefits, who pays, and who decides. They facilitate small group discussions and make sure the group hears the voices of people whose lives are affected by coal personally and professionally. The coal dialogue has now been conducted at a diocesan convention and on a regional basis with dioceses located throughout Appalachia. The award was accepted by the Rev. Margaret Shanks and Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin. The award banquet remarks are here.

Centre College’s Civility Pledge

Thomas Becker is president of Centre’s student government
The senior class graduating from Centre College this year is the cohort of students who created and annual embrace this pledge: “I promise to do my best, be my best, and respect the members and property of our Centre community.” This pledge made national news when vice-presidential candidates coming to Centre for a debate declined to sign the pledge. To the knowledge of student government association president Thomas Becker, no student has declined to sign it. The pledge makes explicit a common aspiration and a common use of “our” in relation to the community of Centre, a college in Danville that was founded by Presbyterians and chartered in 1819. The pledge affects the ethos and behavior of many even when the aspiration is not fulfilled in every instance. Thomas Becker’s award acceptance speech is here.

These three awards close the 2013 assembly whose theme was Civil Dialogue. Next year’s awards will be for good work in the area of the 2014 theme of Restorative Justice.