Correcting USA Today
Since 2012 Minnesota Council of Churches has equipped faith and other communities to manage conflict and depolarize arguments with Respectful Conversations. Beginning out of a design partnership with the Public Conversations Project (now Essential Partners), we discovered that the structured, facilitated methodolgy we put together was a sought-after tool well after the specific polarizing discussion Minnesotans were having in 2012.
In the last 10 years over 8,000 Minnesotans have participated in MCC Respectful Conversations designed not to change minds but soften hearts. In a testament to their effectiveness we've seen them grow and adapt in certain ways:
- They attracted national attention and were sought-after elements of the Christian Community Development Association conference, Christian Unity Gathering, and were replicated from Montana to Indiana by folks who'd experienced them in Minnesota
- In 2016 we began developing them as a public school curriculum in partnership with an organization that now, as part of the YMCA of the North, deploys them in public school settings as "Respectful Conversations in Schools"
- They soon found other applications beyond congregations, being delivered in membership associations, board rooms, universities, graduate institutions, community organizations and governance bodies
- We have been proud to meet and partner with other organizations on various peacebuilding initiatives and projects in that time, including the Carter Center, Princeton University, National Council of Churches USA, Resetting the Table and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy
In 2018 we heard from the National Institute for Civil Discourse, a body of the University of Arizona, inviting us to be part of the Golden Rule Campaign. Our CEO Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung was glad to attend the meeting in DC representing the MCC Respectful Conversations program and we were glad to endorse the new campaign.
- Since then we have been happy to partner with NICD on a couple of podcasts / webinars and publicity pieces. NICD has also helped to serve as a bridge between our regional successes and a more-recently-developing national Bridging movement.
- We are still happy to partner with NICD as opportunities arise
This week a group of organizations including NICD had an op-ed published in USA Today. The submitted op-ed contained these lines:
NICD, through work with state and national faith leaders, knows the impact of civil discourse used to engage differences constructively around issues. Over the last several years, Reverend Jerad Morey of theMinnesota Council of Churcheshas gathered more than 3,000 people to engage with challenging issues. He sees the power and optimism in these kinds of respectful conversations, “To my eyes, participation in the National Week of Conversation is an act of faith and hope: I am living out my core beliefs when I strengthen my own ability to be a blessed peacemaker; in so doing I also demonstrate my hope that there exists a path through the present constriction leading to an expansive future.”
The number of participants is wrong, but that's a quibble. However, the published op-ed reads:
In recent years, the Rev. Jerad Morey of the Minnesota Council of Churches has gathered more than 3,000 people to engage with each other on challenging issues with the help of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. (emphasis MCC's)
He sees power and optimism in these kinds of respectful conversations. “To my eyes, participation in the National Week of Conversation is an act of faith and hope," Morey said. "I am living out my core beliefs when I strengthen my own ability to be a blessed peacemaker."
NICD has since published a correction:
CORRECTIONS: The Minnesota Council of Churches Respectful Conversations has reached over 8,000 people and has NOT, as misstated in USA Today, been conducted “with the help of NICD” for this program. This was an editor’s error on the part of USA Today, who added that phrase.
We are grateful to NICD for first drawing our attention to this mistake and for being so quick to print these corrections. We look forward to bringing Respectful Conversations to more audiences at national levels and to bringing more practitioners of other depolarization and bridge-building methodologies to Minnesota through initiatives like our Peacemakers series and others.