Strengthening Congregational Communities: Social Justice Engagement Through Deliberative Dialogue

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Amanda Wilson Harper


Congregations, Communities, Social Justice, Deliberative Dialogue, Congregational Health



            Christianity and social work have a longstanding history of social justice engagement. However given our current politically-charged society, discussion and engagement in social justice issues are often avoided in congregations because they are seen as divisive. This article discusses the potential impact of implementing public deliberation with pastors and congregations through the lens of two pastors’ experiences, one equipped with deliberative dialogue skills and one who was not. Deliberative dialogue and civil discourse values can positively impact congregational health as the process allows others to share with honesty and vulnerability.  Implementing the process of deliberative dialogue into congregational communities increases the potential for civic capacity when people can trust each other to share their stories, principles, and goals.

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