National experts to partner with Minnesota clergy to mitigate political violence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2022
MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Rev. Jerad Morey
Director of Strategic Relationships
Minnesota Council of Churches
NATIONAL EXPERTS PREPARE MINNESOTA FAITH LEADERS TO PREVENT POLITICAL VIOLENCE
Minnesota Council of Churches builds on success of Respectful Conversations by launching a new series of trainings to equip clergy and congregations to foster peace during turbulent times
Minneapolis, Minn – With leading news outlets asking, as The Economist did two weeks ago, “Is America entering a new era of political violence?” non-governmental organizations experienced in preventing violent conflict abroad are turning their attention – and expertise – to the United States.
University groups who use statistics to mitigate violence, nonprofits who train people in specific violence-prevention skills, others are now partnering with the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) to help faith leaders reduce the possibility of ideologically-inspired violence in Minnesota.
Ten years ago MCC launched Respectful Conversations, a structured and facilitated conversation model that helps communities experiencing toxic polarization to build empathy and strengthen relationships in the face of disagreement. Since then over 100 conversation events with over 5000 Minnesotans in congregations throughout the state have brought peace to communities in conflict. Through organizational partnership, Respectful Conversations have been adapted for use in public school districts and employed as part of collegiate new student orientation.
But Respectful Conversations are only one tool congregations might use to oppose violence. Now MCC is inviting in national partners like Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative and makers of the “Purple” documentary Resetting the Table to help congregations of many faiths learn other tools that can help prevent ideological violence in their communities.
Faith leaders can sign up for the Peacemakers series – the first event is September 20 – at the MCC website. Scheduled so far are:
September 20, Noon - 1:30pm (online)
Orientation and Bridging Divides
What is peacemaking? What makes it urgent for us today? Princeton University's Bridging Divides Initiative analyzes violence in communities to determine those spaces where it is disproportionately present - or absent. Some future presenters may also be introduced in this session.
October 6, 1:00pm - 3:00pm (online)
Resetting the Table (Part 1)
This highly interactive character-shaping workshop is the first half of a two-session workshop focused on following meaning questions. Expect to share about some of your own formative experiences.
October 13, 1:00pm - 3:30pm (online)
Resetting the Table (Part 2)
This highly interactive character-shaping workshop is the second half of a two-session series focused on demonstrating understanding. Expect to be in conversation with people with whom you may disagree about something important to you.
With more partners on the way and to be announced.
In addition to providing these additional peacebuilding trainings to Minnesota’s faith community leaders, MCC staff will be improving their own skillsets. Director of Strategic Relationships Jerad Morey, who oversees MCC Respectful Conversations, has been named as an Aspen Institute for Citizenship & American Identity’s Better Arguments Ambassador. From their press release: “In this program twelve participants from around the country will come together to participate in a fellowship-style leadership development experience. As a result of the program, each Ambassador will be equipped to make commitments of action to put Better Arguments into practice in their respective communities.”
About Minnesota Council of Churches
Representing 27 member judicatories and about 1,000,000 Christians, the Minnesota Council of Churches’ mission is to manifest unity in the church and to build the common good in the world. The Minnesota Council of Churches programs include Refugee Services, Truth & Reparations, MCC Respectful ConversationsTM , Interfaith Relationships and the Minnesota Church Center. www.mnchurches.org
 “Is America Entering a New Era of Political Violence?” The Economist, 8/26/2022. https://www.economist.com/podcasts/2022/08/26/is-america-entering-a-new-...