An interfaith clergy panel models civil discourse in public conversations about tough topics

www.faithandleadership.com | 4/2/2019 | Staff
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The Rev. Darrick McGhee was seething. He and four other clergy were gathered at one of their regular public meetings to talk about tough issues, and that day they were trying to make sense of the latest shooting of a young black man.

As the hour dragged on, McGhee silently rocked back and forth on his stool. His fellow panel members talked about gun control, the right to bear arms -- anything but race, the real issue at hand, he thought.

McGhee - Member - Panel

When he could no longer remain silent, McGhee, the only black member of the panel, finally spoke up.

“Hold on, we can’t let this forum end and never hit the core issue of what’s going on,” he told the crowd gathered at Temple Israel in Tallahassee for the monthly lunch meeting called Faith, Food, Friday. “It’s what I deal with every single day.”

Tears - Face - Father - Months - Son

With tears running down his face, the father of two recalled how months earlier his son had told him that one of his white classmates had called him the N-word. “I honestly thought I could protect my son and my daughter from that happening to them,” McGhee said.

The audience stood and applauded.

Forum - Kind - Moment - Purpose - God

Creating a forum for that kind of moment is the purpose of the God Squad, a five-member clergy group that since 2011 has convened a public gathering at noon one Friday each month in Florida’s capital city.

It was created to offer people of faith -- progressives, moderates and conservatives -- a safe space to show the world that debate doesn’t have to be disorderly, that people with differences don’t have to be detestable.

Idea - Time - Place - Conversations - Topics

The idea is not only to offer a time and place for difficult conversations -- topics have included abortion, gay marriage, police killings of black men, racism, injustice and social inequality -- but also to model the...
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