Circles of Inquiry explore the impact of alcohol

Following worship on August 9, the Cabinet will lead a process known as “Circles of Inquiry” to facilitate a discussion about the impact of alcohol – positive and negative – on our lives. While the impetus for this activity is a reexamination of our “no alcohol” policy for the church facilities, Pastor Jeff hopes the experience itself will be encouraging for the participants’ spiritual journeys.

“The goal of a Circle of Inquiry,” Pastor Jeff wrote in his column last month, “is to give many views their voice, to investigate an issue by asking sincere questions, and telling stories of how that issue related to each participant. The Circles will not work on specific policy options or seek to find solutions. They are a place for us to share our stories, to speak our truths. While specific stories will stay in the groups, the range and types of concerns will be shared in the following Cabinet meeting so they can influence the nuances of a possible policy.”

Each circle will be small, probably five or six people plus a facilitator from the Cabinet. Their goal is to create a safe place for each of us to share our truths and to be heard. There will be specific guidelines for how the circles will work and specific questions that participants will be asked to respond to (though participants will have the option to pass). The Cabinet members will be listening for common themes and divergence of opinion and experience.

The Cabinet hopes to have a specific policy proposal written, influenced by the stories shared, that will be discussed in a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, September 20, following worship. Depending on how that Town Hall Meeting goes, the Cabinet will make a decision about our alcohol policy at their meeting on September 21 or at their meeting in October.

“Of course,” Pastor Jeff wrote, “this plan will only work if people participate, so I hope that you will be at worship and stick around for the Circles of Inquiry on August 9 (if you’re in the area). If we share honestly and listen to each other compassionately, the Holy Spirit will guide our work.”

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