TMASIC, TSINC Undergo Faith-Based Facilitation Training

By: Laura Poff

The Territorial Moral and Social Issues Committee held its inaugural meeting to discuss and practice Faith-Based Facilitation in Atlanta Jan. 13-14. Leading the discussion were Lt. Colonel Dean Pallant of the International Social Justice Center in New York and Lt. Colonel Vern Jewett of the Social Justice Research Center. Committee members, along with members of the Territorial Soldiers Ideas, Needs and Concerns Committee (TSINC), went through the process of facilitation in small groups where they discussed one of five international social issues outlined by the most recent Commissioner’s Conference: human sexuality.

The committee, formed by the Commissioner’s Conference last year, is responsible for providing resources to the field regarding moral and social issues impacting the USA South, including topic overviews and conversation guides. Members will also provide faith-based facilitation training to their corps and divisions when General Andr Cox launches his International Conversations initiative to encourage dialogue about complicated social issues later this year.

“Faith-based facilitation (FBF) challenges each of us to examine what we believe the Bible to say,” Major Susan Ellis, territorial moral and social issues committee director, said. “It challenges me personally to hear and respect others in the room whose opinions differ from my own. A lot of people are afraid to talk about these issues because they don’t have the answers. You will walk away not having the answers. Through self-reflection, you’ll more fully understand what you believe.”

Committee members were chosen from the Youth, Program, Women’s Ministries and Men’s departments to represent a variety of experiences and specialties. The committee is also racially and ethnically diverse and includes both men and women, across multiple generations.

The goal of facilitation is to learn how to have productive conversations about complex social issues and to more clearly understand what you believe, not to come to an agreement or force your opinion onto others.

“The Bible encourages us to allow each other to have our own understanding,” Lt. Colonel Jewett said. “There’s just enough openness and flexibility to stand like an oak tree and bend like a willow.”

Faith-based facilitation will be introduced throughout the territory in local settings later this year when the conversation topics are announced by IHQ.

“It is never easy to begin something new, but we are doing this in faith, believing it is very important for the territory and for the Kingdom of Heaven,” said Commissioner Debi Bell, territorial president of women’s ministries.