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Presenters: The Rev. Dr. Jan Carlsson-Bull, of First Parish in Cohasset, MA, and the Commission on Social Witness; The Rev. Gregory Stewart, of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada, Reno, NV
Prepared for UUA.org by: Bill Lewis, Reporter; Margy Levine Young, Editor
This was probably one of the liveliest workshops at General Assembly 2006: attendees were asked to stand, if able, and arrange themselves along a spectrum or continuum—a line marked on the floor and numbered from 1 to 10—to represent the extent to which they felt that a defining statement did or did not accurately portray attitudes or positions on Social Justice in their home congregations. And they were asked to do this for two sets of statements containing more than sixteen statements. Whew!
At the same time, this was probably one of the most thought-provoking workshops at this year's GA: instead of receiving a set of answers to help them get their congregational leaders pulling together, the attendees got introduced to a process—by going through it—that they can use to help their board, their social justice committee, or their entire congregation discover their areas of agreement and disagreement, and the degree of their agreement and disagreement, on issues of social justice.
The first set of statements can be characterized as "Social Justice Work in Our Congregation." The "Agree/Disagree" or "Yes/No" statements in this group included comments such as:
The second set could be titled "Distinguishing Social Justice Work from Charity." Examples include:
What made the continuum exercise different in this workshop, and made the overall effort reflective, was what happened after the participants had lined up in reaction to the statements in each set. The participants were invited to comment briefly—in a single sentence or phrase, if possible—on what had struck them about the arrayals, and the statements, in the exercise they had just completed. The comments were noted but not discussed.
After both continuum exercises and both sets of statements on what had struck the people in the workshop, there would, in a congregational workshop, be a break. And following that, discussion could begin—perhaps in small groups, perhaps following a short exercise to group similar statements—on what new, different or re-designed efforts the congregation might want to adopt to make its social justice work more effective, meaningful and integrated.
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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
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