Becoming Beloved Community in Arkansas

This week’s story is about St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who are using Living Room Conversations in their “Becoming Beloved Community” program.

St. Paul’s is offering a series of Living Room Conversations to address issues related to racial equity and reconciliation. Quarterly Conversations will start in October 2019. Conversations will take place in home settings in small groups with trained hosts. Twelve pairs of co-hosts will offer a different LRC topic each quarter through 2020. The first is Police-Community Relations. 

Organizer Pattie Williams writes:

I was inspired after I received Living Room Conversations organizer training through the Charter for Compassion and hosted a Conversation as part of my practicum. I wanted to find a way to continue offering this in our community. The structure and the topics create a space for people to listen to each other. As a therapist, I know the value of that. As I am now involved in social justice community actions, I want to create spaces for people to listen to each other. I am so grateful to be able to offer Living Room Conversations.

Pattie described how thoughtfully the program was integrated into the church’s Beloved Community Workgroup Charter, whose Covenant includes a quote from The Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.: “The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community.  It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” 

I asked how the program got started, and she wrote:

My co-host Karen Hodges and I began by inviting our team to do a Living Room Conversation on Status and Privilege. Then five of us prepared a proposal for the church to do one Conversation per quarter through 2020. Consensus was reached (with excitement) that we incorporate these Conversations into our three-year strategic plan. This is our first entree to including members of the congregation in addressing racial equity.    

We wish them great success, and stand ready to help Pattie and the rest of the Becoming Beloved Community team in their efforts. If we can help you, please let us know!