For the last few years, Rev. Joe Ramsay and Rev. Allan Reeve have been working together as church consultants. Together, they use Art of Hosting practices to help churches engage in participatory conversations that lead to clarity, intention and response. Art of Hosting methods engage many stakeholders together in conversations that result in decisions and outcomes rooted in many voices, a breadth of perspectives and deep commitments. They also approach this work using an Appreciative Inquiry lens, which means they primarily focus on the assets, gifts, passions and skills within congregations and communities rather than on problems and deficits.
They refer to this work as Hosting Sacred Conversations — a term that reflects the principles on which their work is based; that is, a participatory process rooted in the many faith-centred conversations they have hosted so far that identifies opportunities supported by the assets, gifts, passions and skills found in congregations and communities.
This project began with a prototype event February 22-24, 2016 at Five Oaks in Paris Ontario. The event was called “The Shift” and introduced about 20 participants to a set of interrelated conversations and community development methods. These included The World Café, The Circle Way, Open Space Technology and a Design Lab. While none of these methods are new, using them together as an integrated approach to organizational and community development has been emerging only for about 20 years and has become known globally as the Art of Hosting. There are very few examples of art of hosting practices being used in an integrated way within Canadian Churches. We think that should change … for the sake of the church, congregations, communities, neighbourhoods and society.
Hosting Sacred Conversations is being implemented through the Edge Network of the United Church of Canada. The program will train practitioners in the art of Hosting Sacred Conversations, provide support for the application of “hosting” methods and offer coaching for the new projects and programs that emerge.
(first published at hostingsacredconversations.com)