Monthly Archives: April 2017

Message construction


Today CMC hosted a training for how Columbus faith communities can be in solidarity with immigrants.  The event was put on by Faith in Public Life, Central Ohio Worker Center, Church World Service, and Columbus People’s Partnership.  There were 40-50 people present, four of us from CMC.

One of the presenters, Dan Nejfelt, talked about messaging and the media.  One of his topics has broad application for how we might talk to others about any topic of concern.

Dan noted there has been lots of research done about what makes for a compelling message.  He proposed a message construction with these elements, in this order:

Values -> Problem -> Solution -> Action

Starting with values is a way of naming the Why of our concern and can establish common ground.  After naming the problem that conflicts with these values, a solution describes the outcome we want.  Dan encouraged us to keep in mind that policies are means to a solution, but not the solution itself.  Actions are ways people can concretely act to help achieve the solution to the problem and uphold values.

As a way of practicing, here’s an attempt to follow this message construction regarding the current  BREAD campaign and upcoming Nehemiah Action gathering.

I want to live in the kind of community that provides all children with a supportive environment for healthy relationships and personal flourishing. (Values)

We have a cultural mentality of punishing bad behavior rather than restoring relationships.  During the 2015-16 school year Columbus City Schools issued over 26,000 suspensions to a student body of less than 50,000 (as reported to the state of Ohio).  Overall, suspensions are ineffective at changing behavior, disproportionately affect people of color, and are a part of the school to prison pipeline. (Problem)

Restorative practices are a proven form of reducing suspensions and improving school learning environments.  Rather than focusing on punishment of the wrong doer, restorative practices address the harm done and involve the community in creating a solution.  Cities such as Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore are already seeing measurable changes through their implementation of restorative practices in their schools.  Columbus City Schools is actively looking for alternatives to suspensions and open to what works.  (Solution)

Join with over 2000 people of faith from around Franklin County at the BREAD Nehemiah Action this coming Monday at the Celeste Center at 6:30!  Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Good will be present to make commitments to work with BREAD for establishing restorative practices in our schools.  Your presence will make a difference.  (Action)





The original Inward Outward

Back in 1968 Elizabeth O’Connor wrote a book called Journey Inward Journey Outward.  That language was already an important part of her congregation, Church of the Saviour, in Washington, DC.  The book helped popularize this simple but profound notion of both journeys happening simultaneously.

Living in Washington, DC in 1968 must have been intense.  It was the height of the Civil Rights movement that was transforming into a national Poor People’s Campaign.  Although I believe the book was published before either happened, it was the year both Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were shot dead.

In the preface, O’Connor writes: “We cannot begin to cope with what it means to build a world community unless we understand how difficult it is to be in community even with a small group of people.”  Being the body of Christ, even in the small ways we care for one another, is never separate from the big work we do.

O’Connor speaks about life as a vocation.  Our primary job, in this view, is life itself.  To live it well, and to not be like those who “have an invitation to a banquet, but are too busy to attend.”

The fast of Lent is nearing an end.  The feast of Easter is coming.