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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Pryfogle

An Exercise in Sacred/Civic Placemaking Leads to a Breakthrough

I facilitated a webinar on Saturday with church leaders in the Southwestern U.S. The topic was An Introduction to Sacred/Civic Placemaking, which is a practice shared by congregations and their neighbors to reimagine religious space as common space toward the goal of creating more just, equitable and sustainable communities.

We did a brief exercise with three questions: (1) What problems do you want to solve in your community? (2) What are the resources of your community (outside the church)? (3) How might your church property be used in tandem with these community resources to solve the problem?

Using Padlet (thank you, Joseph Bubman and Deborah Tien, for introducing me to this wonderful tool!) the group quickly posted responses to each question. A few things stand out as I look at the Padlet now. Homelessness and mental health are of great concern to these leaders. Their ability to see resources in the wider community needs strengthening. (That's a muscle that all leaders need to work on.) And they know their churches have space that could help solve these problems. That awareness is a breakthrough.

I opened and closed the webinar with favorite bookends, two questions. At the beginning: Why did you say YES to the invitation to be part of this webinar? At the end: What do you want to say YES to now? For the work of discernment, which is integral to sacred/civic placemaking, evoking YES locates energy and clarifies direction. I felt my own energy rise as we concluded with a benediction of YESes. I was grateful to be reminded that many faith leaders desire to be present in their communities in new ways. Which made one leader's YES so perfect: "Let's do it," he said. Amen.

Daniel Pryfogle is cofounder and CEO of Sympara.


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