The Healthy Relations Team (HRT) came together last fall. Such a team had existed a few times over the years and has been wanted in recent years. At the request of our interim minister Rev. Lara Cowtan, the current HRT emerged and grew to seven or eight members in a matter of months. Our members come with various skills, experience, and perspectives.
At least half of our members have had significant family or personal challenges this year, and like most volunteers around UCV, everyone is busy, so our program development has been slow but the rapport, goodwill, and commitment have been noticeable. We are still here and looking forward to a new church year!
A brief summary of activity:
A few of us have been approached by some individuals or groups at UCV for consultation or support around sensitive issues.
We were able to collaborate with Rev Lara, the MTT, and our UCV archivist Diana Ellis to develop and present the Ministerial History series, Triumphs and Tumoils. This series was well received and we were impressed by the degree of deep interest and serious contemplation about the history revealed through our archives, with added perspectives from participants. We are pleased that recordings of Diana Ellis’s presentations from the archival material now exist and are accessible to UCV members.
We all learned how knowledge of our past is instructive about our past and present triumphs and turmoils. We saw how patterns of behaviour and interactions have recurred over the decades. We learned how ministry extends well beyond the minister and how we all contribute to a healthy and diverse community.
The Healthy Relations Team were of course aware of, and several of us participated in, the two Circles of Understanding offered in May of this year by Frank Tester. Considerable practice was had in listening! Frank is receiving feedback about the two circles he led and we understand that he will prepare a final report. Some of our members were also involved in earlier listening circles pertaining to the 8th principle.
The HRT plans to offer further training in skills that support us in living into our Covenant of Healthy Relations. Over the summer you might want to research ways to become aware of implicit (unconscious) biases: there are awareness tools online such as the Harvard-based implicit bias tests. Or you might look into bystander interventions when witnessing racism, sexism or other oppressions (e.g. online training by Right to Be, and background info by the American Psychological Association).
A book two of us appreciated reading this year was “The Persuaders: at the front lines of the fight for hearts, minds and democracy” by Anand Giridharadas. One simple line: “So the moral of this story is, how you make people feel matters.” One activist said “I have never seen an instance where, because somebody was deeply shamed or called names or ignored, they changed their mind. I just haven’t”. They went on to describe how the stages once suggested for creating change through activism were: Express Anger about a situation. State a Hope. Suggest an Action (AHA). They are coming to believe that what is more effective is: Identify a shared value. State the current problem. Propose a solution. The book has many good stories and insights.
Feel free to reach out to us about learning opportunities or for support in difficult communication situations. [email protected].
– submitted by Marg Fletcher, co-chair (with Leslie Kemp) of UCV’s Healthy Relations Team, May 29, 2023