Taking Contempt out of Contention
Softening Hearts; Not Changing Minds
Saturday, June 15, 9 AM – 1:30 PM, in Fellowship Hall
The Adult Faith Formation Committee is sponsoring a workshop open to all with an interest in exploring how we might reduce polarization in our family, church, and community today. We will seek new ways of thinking about the issues that divide us as well as new ways of connecting with one another.
Invite family and friends to join us.
We’ll provide coffee, refreshments, and lunch free of charge.
Michael McGillicuddy, a licensed clinical social worker, will lead this practical workshop on Untying the Knots of Polarization. He will share his thoughts on the roots of polarization and the way forward. We’ll observe people conversing about polarized issues and then participate in structured dialogue designed to generate insight and improve communication skills. Our aim is to use these skills to remove contempt from possibly contentious conversations, leading to healing and solidarity. After the workshop, we’ll offer a way to practice the process in our small church groups.
First Presbyterian Church leaders have already participated in this workshop and encourage the congregation to attend.
Pastor Chip Hardwick is enthusiastic:
“When the Adult Faith Formation Team started talking about addressing issues of polarization, I knew it was important not just for the congregation, but for me, too. News flash: people in churches have differing opinions both from each other and from their pastors. At the workshop I was able to start wrestling with how I can navigate these situations more faithfully and helpfully. I hope you’ll join us at the June 15th event.”
Deacon Martha Zeeman says:
“The Untying the Knots of Polarization workshop was outstanding. The workshop gave me some new tools to use, including a daily email called the Flip Side, which gives different viewpoints on one news story. It also helped me to see that we have much more in common than we think. I look forward to further exploration and to sharing this with the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff community and beyond.”
Elder Barbara Schulz says:
“Recently I read that criticism is only rarely warranted, because, rather than getting us our way, it pushes people away. Learning to express what we think without attacking what others think, is a win-win, not just for this time, but for all time.”
Elder Roberta Miller says:
“I am so glad that I attended the “softening hearts, changing lives” meeting on polarization. You think you know a lot about “the other”… then you participate in a class like this…and you realize that your awareness, your ability to work on discord and dislike, has grown by leaps and bounds. It also gives up a chance to be more open and honest with other church members in a safe environment. I urge anyone who can make it to attend…you won’t be disappointed!”
Elder Commissioner to Presbytery of Chicago Anne Warnke says:
“My husband and I first met Mike McGillicuddy at Chautauqua Institute in New York where his Polarization talks were drawing overflow crowds. Jesus taught us to love one another. Perhaps we can approach those who disagree with us differently and have an impact. Mike has a great workshop to help us understand this idea in the context of our times. I’ve taken it twice and can’t wait for the third chance to learn more on June 15. Please join us to equip yourself for the work of the church right now. You will not be put on the spot or asked to take a controversial stand – just to learn about how our society got so polarized and share how we can reverse it!”
Adult Faith Formation Workshop 2019
More about Michael McGillicuddy:
Mike McGillicuddy is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). After securing an undergraduate degree in theology from Christian Brothers University in Memphis and serving the army after graduation, he began a long and unusual career. He successively worked in education, Federal civil service, financial planning and social work. He acquired two masters degrees 30 years apart at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the first in sociology and the second in social work. Immediately prior to retirement he served as a psychiatric social worker in both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health programs. Since retirement Mike has served as an Ignatian Volunteer, currently at Kolbe House Jail Ministry, facilitating groups within Cook County Jail and accompanying recently discharged citizens in the critical early weeks of their reentry.
A cradle Catholic who grew up in the turbulent 1960s, Mike has an abiding interest in polarization and its remedies. In 2013 he was involved in convening a Notre Dame conference entitled Polarization in the US Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal. Post-conference, Mike created Untying Knots, a ministry designed to share alternatives to the cultural, religious and personal polarization so prevalent today. He has addressed this topic with over 1,000 attendees to more than 20 gatherings, local and national, religious and secular. Additionally, Mike facilitates skills workshops for Better Angels, an organization focused on reducing political polarization.