Many members of the Annual Conference expressed a desire for more time to be in Holy Conferencing and to be in dialog with each other. In response, the Conference has formed a team to lead a Circle Process at the 2016 Annual Conference session.
Circle Process is a way of talking about topics – sometimes difficult topics – in which everybody’s voice gets heard. The Circle Process at Annual Conference is scheduled to take place from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, June 16. The topic for discussion has not yet been determined, but will be announced in advance.
To help folks understand more about Circle Process, below is an excerpt from materials shared by the team working on Circle Process for the Annual
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Read our introductory story about Circle Process
Talking pieces selected for Circle Process
Facilitators talk about their hopes for the process at AC 2016
Circle Process as practiced in faith communities
The circle Process is a great gift to the Church as it evokes the best of our theology, recognizes the importance of ritual and sacred space and time, emphasizes the significance of relational covenants, encourages deep listening and respectful speaking from the heart. … Circle Process has helped bring us back to a better and more faithful way of being Church, whether we are sharing thoughts, making decisions or healing relations.
- The circle expresses in a physical and symbolic way the interconnectedness, interdependence and the unity of all life as found in God with deep appreciation for diversity, the unique wisdom and contribution of each person.
- Everyone in the circle is the alpha and omega of the circle, with equal responsibility and accountability for the work of the circle.
- The circle emphasizes collective and communal wisdom and discernment.
- The circle becomes a place to practice the Great Commandment, which is the sum of the law and the prophets: love God, neighbor and self. It is about the development of relationships, the healing of relationships and the formation of community.
- The circle becomes a spiral as the circle moves deeper and deeper.
- One of the more obvious connections of circle process and the rhythms of Church life is that in circle process opening and closing rituals frame the whole time and space together as sacred. The circle is a sacred space.
- Circle process has helped call the Church back from doing business like the chamber of commerce to doing “worshipful work,” and seeing its task to discern in and through community the will of God.
- Circle process has helped us understand again the power of ritual to transform lives and create community.
- Ritual helps create a space safe enough, physically and emotionally, for the telling of stories, the speaking and hearing of truth.
- The talking piece as used in circle is the most helpful ritual we know to encourage deep listening and respectful speaking.
- The talking piece enables everyone to have voice, including the quiet ones, often the wisest, and enables the talkers to listen.
- When you hold the talking piece you speak and everyone else listens.
- The talking piece is used wisely and not mechanically, with the facilitator moving as needed between passing it and holding it with open conversation, one at a time, in the circle.