With the Nov. 6 election three weeks away, the Minnesota Council of Churches is about to participate in three conversations about the marriage amendment in the St. Croix Valley.
The group wants to give people a place to express their views and the opportunity to listen to what others have to say on many issues. Their Respectful Conversations project is designed to strengthen Minnesota congregations and have them explore current issues, like the marriage amendment through the lens of deeply held conviction to maintain and enhance relationships among those who disagree.
The conversations on the marriage amendment are three of 54 to 56 conversations that have either taken place or are scheduled around the state prior to the general election.
“It’s a very formatted discussion,” said Gail Anderson, the council’s director of unity and relationships.
“The Minnesota Council of Churches knows that a topic like this can be very polarizing and a lot of people end up thinking that people on the other side are stupid, misinformed or hold less value,” she added. “This conversation gives people an opportunity to get together, express their opinions, hear the other side, and realize that though there are differences on issues people can find common ground as well.”
The Minnesota Council of Churches helps people engage in the discussion and ensures a respectful experience. The organization doesn’t take a position on the amendment or shares its opinion because they have 24 groups involved in the organization that don’t hold the same position on the marriage amendment.
“We knew that this was coming and that it would be an emotional issue in the religious community,” Anderson said. “We knew that we had a couple of options: we could choose not to be involved, or we could be involved in a way that allowed for enhancement of the conversation. We’re an ecumenical organization, and it’s in our DNA to talk to people, learn about the different points of view and help people find common ground, so we felt we could best serve in this way.
The program “A Respectful Conversation on the Marriage Amendment” takes place Oct. 20 at People’s Congregational Church in Bayport; Oct. 22 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Oakdale, and Oct. 23 at First United Methodist Church of Stillwater. All programs are scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m.
The community is welcome to attend but pre-registration is required. Individuals can call the churches directly, register online at www.mnchurches.org or call the Minnesota Council of Churches at 612-230-3344.