Dear Friend of The Wisconsin Council of Churches:
This week the church year begins anew. This time of year often feels a little slower, if only because the weather changes and darkness comes earlier in the day signaling that it’s a time to head inside to fireplaces and books and family and food. For many of us, the season of advent also brings the spiritual practice of preparation. This year feels different. The election cycle that we’ve just finished has been a particularly difficult one ripping apart the already fragile fabric of this country. Whole swaths of people feel unheard, forgotten and left behind, and their voices have now been heard in this election. Similarly, whole swaths of people feel unsafe, threatened by the words and actions of those who are taking power and a few of their most strident supporters. Even weeks out from the election, emotions are hot, tensions are high and incidents of hate speech are on the rise. As Christians we must condemn such actions and stand with those who are most impacted by these forms of violence in our local communities.
We are in a critical moment of decision for our country – a moment in which we will decide whether we become more divided, more segregated, more aggressive toward one another or if we will begin the hard work of healing our nation one conversation, one person, one community at a time.
As followers of Jesus , we have a way forward – in fact a mandate forward. For wherever we find ourselves on the political spectrum, the Gospel proclaims that we are called to love one another and to care for the least of these among us.
The Wisconsin Council of Churches provides a place and resources to engage in difficult conversations, and the WCC been doing this work for decades. More recently, in 2012, when the political climate in Wisconsin was so contentious, the WCC began a project in partnership with Parker Palmer and his Center for Courage and Renewal called a Season of Civility based on Palmer’s book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. I don’t think, at the time, any of us could have predicted that the political climate in the nation would follow Wisconsin’s lead and become even more divisive as it has in this most current election season.
The Season of Civility called upon people to engage in conversations to recognize the following:
- An understanding that we are all in this together;
- An appreciation of the value of ‘otherness’;
- An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways;
- A sense of personal voice and agency;
- A capacity to create community.
You can find more information and resources from the Council’s Season of Civility initiative at: http://bit.ly/civilityresources
There is work to do and in the midst of this chaos, in this season of Advent, I can think of no better practice then one that invites us into respectful, active listening and conversations that work toward finding common ground.
Rev. Sarah Moore-Nokes
WCC Board President