The Welcome CircleWhat's sacred to you?
THE GENERAL STRUCTURE (intended to last about an hour)
- Welcome, Introductions 5-10 minutes
- Description < 5 minutes
- Self-Inquiry ~ 15 minutes
- Sharing What’s Sacred ~ 15 minutes
- Curiosity ~15 minutes
- Closing ~ 5 minutes
- We are an online community that finds sacredness and power in the welcome of, honoring, and solidarity across our differences:
Religious/worldview background or current spiritual orientation, race, culture, sexual orientation, dis/ability, gender identity or expression, socio-economic class, mental health, values, experience, politics, physical size, appearance, and personality.
- We find sacredness in internal inquiry–learning how our impact across our differences both aligns and fails to align with our intention.
- We find sacredness in our common humanity.
- We find sacredness in acknowledging, celebrating, and honoring our calling, our unique and noble brilliance, and the voices within us.
- We find sacredness in supporting compassionate and ferocious power in ourselves and others.
The purpose of this time is to deepen our “internal inquiry” both for its own sake and to understand and effectively engage with those who are different from us. It supports cultivation of relationships and appreciation so that what is sacred is given what it needs to emerge. During this time we will have an opportunity to experience self-reflective tools, communication practice, cross-cultural models, skill training—or Solidarity Protocol practice (see below). The time is led by volunteer leaders/ facilitators. Recommendations for activities are welcome. Contact The Sum if you’re interested in volunteering (email@example.com).
SHARING WHAT’S SACRED
The Circle is opened for any who feel called to share their experience of the sacred. This could be a dance, music, a poem, a dream, a memory or story from their life, an insight, or an artifact they want to share. It could be short and simple – the smell of a pie someone remembers their grandmother making! It could be a life life-changing insight or an experience of the miraculous.
The volunteer leader invites us to sit in silence after each sharing (~30 seconds) to make sure that person’s sharing is honored fully. “Leanness of speech” or “distilling language” is asked of all present in an attempt to best say what is important. Leaders may ask questions in order to facilitate this process for the speaker if it seems unclear to them. It is not a time for venting frustrations or getting one’s desire for attention met – it’s not about taking—it’s about sharing and giving a wholeness from you to others. If you want to be heard or need something else you can talk to a leader after the Circle is closed.
In gathering to cultivate an authentically welcoming faith community to and for all people, we acknowledge the foundational ingredient of feedback: the acceptance of a responsibility to both provide a high level of feedback for others and to receive it from others. This ensures the resentments are not held and that we continue to grow and learn as a Circle. We provide this feedback using the Solidarity Protocols. More in-depth information about the Solidarity Protocols is available on The Sum’s website. A brief summary is at the bottom of this page.
CURIOSITY AND ENGAGEMENT
The Solidarity Circle is not to be confused with a “Friends Meeting for Worship”. While any present may value how shared silence can generate a sense of sacredness, many across regional and cultural differences find sacre3dness in sound and music and active engagement with one another. In this time, questions may be asked of one another and answered or denied. We ask that questions be asked of individuals and not to group as a whole. We find personal interactions cultivate relationship and thereby the strength of the group, benefitting everyone. Group conversations can wax intellectual or philosophical which is not our purpose here – it is not intended to be a “salon” for example.
Lastly, in closing the Solidarity Circle, all present are invited to share one word or phrase to express what they will take with them, their appreciation, and gratitude. These are offered randomly until silence returns and the Circle is considered closed.
The leader(s) will remain on the video call to answer any questions/offer additional support.
Note: Solidarity Protocols may be used at times during the Welcome Circle you can view and download the solidarity protocols below.
What would you like people to know about the Welcome Circle?
“Be prepared for a high feedback environment”
“Love the deep dive inside myself – so challenging”
“It’s about taking complete responsibility for my life”
“This is not therapy or a place for venting”
“It is a place where we can learn to speak from solidarity and strength”
“It is a place where our differences and commonality are seen and honored”
To view or download the Solidarity Protocols: