Season of Civility

Are you weary of the increasing polarization in our public discourse at the very time we need government leadership to address our biggest problems?

 
You can help begin a different kind of conversation in our congregations and communities.  We should neither remain silent nor go along with the prevailing bitterness in our politics. We must create “safe spaces” for respectful conversations across the partisan divides. And we must move beyond the walls of our congregations include everyone in our local communities in this dialogue.

The Wisconsin Council of Churches, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and other partners are sponsoring a “Season of Civility.” Read on to learn about some of the components of this program and how you and your congregation can participate.

Call for a Season of Civility in Wisconsin

Thirty-six regional and statewide religious leaders have called upon the citizens of our state to enter a “Season of Civility” amidst the partisan rancor of the recent recall campaigns and the anticipated divisiveness of the fall election cycle.

Read full statement here along with a full list of signatories.

To support the statement:  Clergy can sign the statement by sending an e-mail to wcoc@wichurches.org.  Laypersons can ask their religious leaders to sign the statement

Share the Statement: Your congregation can print the statement in its newsletter or include it in the worship bulletin, and post a link on its website and FaceBook page.

  • Statement text for newsletter (Word format) here
  • Statement formatted for bulletin insert (PDF) here

Media coverage

  • Capital Times (Madison) article on Season of Civility launch here
  • Wisconsin State Journal article on services of reconciliation in Madison here
  • Hear Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kathleen Dunn interview WCC Executive Director Scott Anderson about the Season of Civility project here
  • Fond du Lac clergy leaders join Season of Civility effort. Read about it here
  • More good press on the Council’s Season of Civility initiative from Capital Times editorial writer Phil Haslanger.  Click here
  • Parker Palmer column on the Huffington Post,  ”A Season of Civility: Religion and Public Life.”
  • “A Season of Civility in Response to Campaign Incivility,” by Brian Konkel, Co-Pastor of Lake Edge Lutheran Church, Madison, WI, on the “God’s Politics” blog of Sojourners.

Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy

Author Parker Palmer has recently released a new book, Healing the Heart of Democracy:  The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. Parker sees a valuable role for faith communities in renewing our civic life.  The Season of Civility Project uses Healing the Heart of Democracy as a departure point for constructively addressing our differences, and by helping Wisconsin’s religious community take the lead in modeling a more faithful and life-giving manner of civil discourse.

Parker Palmer will give a public talk at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, December 10 in Waunakee.  Check back for further details.

Discussion Guide for Congregations

You can practice and develop the skills for civil conversation in your congregation.  The Center for Courage and Renewal has produced “Healing Democracy Action Circles Guide,” a six-session discussion guide on based on the book Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer.  The Wisconsin Council of Churches, Interfaith Council of Greater Milwaukee, and other partnering groups, have prepared supplements for using the Guide in faith communities.

The Guide explores each of five “habits of the heart” that are essential for sustaining a healthy democracy:

  • 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; and
  • A capacity to create community.

The faith community supplements connect these habits with appropriate religious texts and teachings.  Please use the feedback form to let us know how you used these resources, and how your discussions went.

Download the Healing Democracy Action Circles Study Guide here.

Download Faith Community Supplements to the Study Guide below:

Related Events

Season of Civility: The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing our Divisive Politics

Monday, October 29 from 6:30-8:00pm

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 4141 Mormon Coulee Rd., La Crosse, WI  54601.

Presentation by Dr. Peter Bakken, Coordinator for Public Policy, Wisconsin Council of Churches, followed by discussion.  Sponsored by the Church in Society Committee of the La Crosse Area Synod (ELCA).

Habits of the Heart for Healthy Congregations: A Courage & Renewal Retreat and Learning Conference

August 12-15, 2013, George Williams College, Williams Bay, Wisconsin

Presented by the Center for Courage & Renewal

  • Are you wanting your congregation to more fully embody its commitment to compassion, hospitality, and the creation of community?
  • Do you wonder about how to create relationships that bring the words in your sacred texts to life, and find ways of being together that are congruent with what your faith teaches?
  • Are you looking for new ways of holding the tensions inherent in any community of faith in more life giving ways?

Habits of the Heart of Healthy Congregations is designed for you—ordained and lay leaders, and members of communities of faith seeking to strengthen your congregations.  More Information.

Fall 2012 Lectionary Reflections on Civility

The Wisconsin Council of Churches’ Peace and Justice Commission, as part of its contribution to the WCC’s Season of Civility initiative, has written reflections on the fall, 2012 lectionary texts focused on the theme of civility.  For use by pastors and Christian educators for the Sundays running from September 2nd through November 4th.  For a copy in pdf format, click here.

Sermons on Civility

The WCC is inviting pastors throughout Wisconsin to send us their sermons on the topic of civility, which will be posted on our website as they are received.

To view the current list of downloadable sermons, click here.

To submit a sermon, send a copy in electronic format (either Word or pdf) to Lori Denoyer at wcoc@wichurches.org.

Season of Civility Bulletin Insert

The Session of Tippecanoe Church, Milwaukee, WI developed a civility guideline to be placed ahead of prayer time in worship with the intention of supporting civil involvement in their faith community this election season.  You can download a Word Document with a version of the guideline that can be edited for your church (at the points highlighted in yellow). Print it as an insert or copy it into your worship bulletin or newsletter as a helpful resource for your community.

Additional Resources on Civility

For a list of books and websites, click here.

 

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