Most people who plan to do Living Room Conversations in a big way start small. In fact, that’s exactly what we usually recommend: begin with a 4-7 person conversation in person or by video, see how easy it is, then branch out.
But that wasn’t the approach Rev. Wendy Craig-Purcell chose. She didn’t stop at introducing the practice to a small group or to her community at The Unity Center in San Diego. Instead, she had a wider vision and took the idea of a Living Room Conversation to her colleagues in the Bolder Together…New Thought in Action group.
Some ministers expressed fear at being perceived by their congregants or boards as becoming “too political.” Rev. Wendy responded that if they took action together at the same time, the ministers wouldn’t feel afraid and congregants might also stop being afraid. Her suggestion resonated strongly with the group.
Twelve congregations decided to join the experiment and host Living Room Conversations on the very same topic at each of their communities on the second Sundays of September, October and November 2018. The group approach led to developing a video using a montage of all the ministers inviting faith community members to the Conversations, with a follow-up video discussion inspiring participation here. (Wendy notes they plan on re-recording the video so it is more polished next time, but adds that it served and continues to serve the purpose intended and that was what was important to them.)
How did it go? Toni–a person who participated in the second session–a Conversation about Immigration shares:
I took a chance showing up, more out of curiosity than anything else. Truly didn’t think this session would be productive or more than a stage for people to rant or mouth off about politics…My next thought was…things would probably one sided, because everyone is from Unity, and Unity is all accepting, and loving…I did not think people would really share their own point of view and feel comfortable doing so…Listening to those in my group share, I was enlightened. I learned a great deal from the people I sat with. It was not what my cynical self expected, it was not all coated in just emotion. When sharing my thoughts, I was given the opportunity to just put it out there, along with the questions that I ponder.
I consider myself open and accepting, but I still presented with premature judgment. I left as a changed person.
Like Toni, Rev. Wendy also took a chance–and helped to create opportunities for people to have experiences like Toni’s throughout San Diego County.
And that’s not all!
Even before their first Conversation in September, Rev. Wendy had begun discussion with regional Unity leaders about doing Living Room Conversations. She now thinks three more San Diego churches and one in Pasadena are joining in 2019. The Pasadena minister is reaching out to the other New Thought churches in her area to create a Bolder Together group there as well. Unity churches in Santa Barbara and Las Vegas will be on-boarding soon, too.
And we hear that plans are underway to extend the program nationally later in the year! Visions have a way of coming true, so watch this space to see what happens–and please think about who else should see this note and share it with them, won’t you?
Reverend Linda Taylor