Dialogue and Events
April 2020

Tackling Tough Issues through Deliberative Dialogue
Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty, and Crisis

Embracing the Church of Tomorrow Today
For more information, please contact the VWU Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at 757.455.3129 or csrf@vwu.edu , or visit the website at www.vwu.edu/csrf
How Should We Prevent Mass Shootings in Our Communities?

Horrific events involving mass shootings in our country have touched a deep chord in many of us, yet Americans are divided over what are the best approaches to curbing gun violence. In March, our Nexus Interfaith Dialogue event welcomed over fifty participants who engaged in moderated deliberative discussions on how to prevent mass shootings in our communities.

Participants - including Virginia Wesleyan students, faculty and staff, and members of the broader community - were divided into four small groups. With trained moderators, the small groups discussed the topic of gun violence using the National Issues Forum (NIF) guide  How Should We Prevent Mass Shootings in Our Communities?   The guide offers three approaches to solving the problem, and dialogue participants are asked to weigh the pros and cons of each. While there are more than three options for tackling the issue, the deliberative framework helps to avoid polarizing rhetoric and encourages more reflective judgment on how to solve the problem.

The options presented in the guide focus on: 1) making mass killings more difficult; 2) equipping people to defend themselves; and 3) rooting out violence and hate in society. At the end of the forum, after discussing each option, and their drawbacks, participants were asked to complete a Community Forum Worksheet. The results of those worksheets showed that the three actions most strongly supported by the participants were banning assault weapons, enacting mandatory waiting periods and background checks to purchase firearms, and calling on public figures to stop stereotyping minorities. The three actions most strongly opposed by participants were arming teachers and school staff, passing “red flag” laws, and allowing the FBI to monitor online conversations.

The National Issues Forum Common Ground for Action initiative is offering several online opportunities for deliberating this issue. More information is available at  National Week of Conversation: Cross-Campus College Online Forums on How Should We Prevent Mass Shootings?

The Nexus dialogue scheduled for April 20th has been postponed until the fall semester. We hope to see you in the fall as we discuss immigration in America using the deliberative framework.

More information about the  National Issues Forum  and  issue guides  may be found online.
The Nexus Interfaith Dialogue series is sponsored in partnership with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) and Hands United Building Bridges (HUBB).
Peace Literacy: Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty, and Crisis

In April, Paul K. Chappell was to be the speaker for our annual Justine L. Nusbaum lecture. We are pleased that he will now join us on Thursday, September 24, at 7 p.m. in the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center. 
Chappell is the Peace Literacy and Leadership Director for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. A graduate of West Point and a veteran of the war in Iraq, he created the idea of Peace Literacy after his time in the military. He develops the idea further in his seven-book series The Road to Peace , where he writes about waging peace, ending war, the art of living, and what it means to be human.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Paul is developing a nine-part series Peace Literacy: Navigating Struggle, Uncertainty, and Crisis with practical ideas for helping us to navigate this struggle and create stronger relationships and communities.
“Part One: Purpose and Meaning” and “Part Two: Nurturing Relationships” are available now.
Embracing the Church of Tomorrow Today*
Monday, November 9, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 10, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Susan S. Goode Fine & Performing Arts Center
Registration Required. Seminar Fee: $75

How to lead change? How to look at technology, hospitality, worship, and church systems in the 21 st century? This two-day seminar focuses on how to anticipate and embrace change, particularly in an institution – the church – that is frequently reluctant to do so. The seminar is open to all and also awards one continuing education credit for clergy from the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Olu Brown is the lead pastor of Impact Church near Atlanta, GA. In 2016, Impact Church was listed as one of the top 100 fastest growing churches in America (and the fifth fastest growing United Methodist congregation). Brown is well-known as the author of Zero to 80: Innovative Ideas for Planting and Accelerating Church Growth, Leadership Directions from Moses, and 4D Impact: Smash Barriers Like a Smart Church.


Dr. Craig Wansink , Professor of Religious Studies and the Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr.
Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom

Kelly Jackson , Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom

Dr. Eric Mazur , Gloria and David Furman Professor of Judaic Studies and Center for the Study of Religious Freedom Fellow for Religion, Law, and Politics

757.455.3129 |  csrf@vwu.edu  |  www.vwu.edu/csrf