Listening Circles

As many of you are likely aware, in 2016 the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church commissioned a study committee to “articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality that pays particular attention to biblical conceptions of gender and sexuality.” After multiple COVID-related delays, that committee’s report, known as the Human Sexuality Report (HSR, for short), will come to Synod for consideration this summer.

Given the sensitive and potentially divisive nature of this report and Synod’s deliberations and decisions regarding it, the CRC has developed a resource called “The Challenging Conversations Toolkit.” This resource is designed to help CRC congregations facilitate “Listening Circles” for their members to engage with the Report, discuss their thoughts, and listen to one another. Here at Ivanrest, the Administrative Team of our Council has recently decided that pursuing these sorts of Listening Circles would be beneficial for our congregation.

The goal of these Listening Circles is to create a space for people in CRC churches to connect, to share their experiences, and look to the future. The Listening Circles are not meant to “solve” issues or to engage in debate. Rather, the purpose is to listen to one another, regardless of differences in opinion, in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

During these circle experiences, you will be asked questions to explore the issues raised in the report on a deeper level. You will come together with people you may or may not agree with. When participating in a Listening Circle, you have the responsibility both to listen to others, as well as an opportunity to be heard.

In order to help you prepare for this experience and decide if you would like to join a Circle, we’d ask that you please reflect on the following questions:

  • Am I prepared to listen deeply to those I may not agree with?
  • Am I prepared to share my experience and perspective, even if others disagree with me?
  • Am I prepared to sit in discomfort?
  • Do I have an apprehension about attending and, if so, can I share it with someone?
  • Will I be able to address the apprehension and still participate?
  • Do I have support if I am unable to continue with the process?

The Listening Circle groups will meet 6 times for 90 minutes each time. Space is limited in each group and attendance at all sessions is expected as trust, relationships and discussion content build throughout the process.

  • Group 1: Sundays at 8:30 AM (March 27, April 10, April 24, May 1, May 15, and May 22)
  • Group 2: Sundays at 11:15 AM (March 27, April 10, April 24, May 1, May 15, and May 22)
  • Group 3: Thursdays at 7:00 PM (March 31, April 21, April 28, May 5, May 19, and May 26)

Space is limited in each group and relatives (couples, siblings, parents/children) are asked to join different groups. Please sign-up using THIS FORM by Sunday, March 20. Once a group has the first meeting, no additional participants will be allowed to join. If you are interested in participating but these dates/times don't work for you, please indicate your desire to be informed of the formation of future groups on the sign-up form.

Our hope is that these Listening Circles will allow our members to more deeply engage with this important topic and report in our denomination.