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Tue, Jan 02

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Alabama, USA

Compassionate Listening Group Trip

In January 2024, Joel Berman and Yael Petretti will lead a group to Alabama. For more information, please contact Becky Field! (Photo taken by Becky Field)

Compassionate Listening Group Trip
Compassionate Listening Group Trip

Time & Location

Jan 02, 2024, 7:00 PM – Jan 03, 2024, 7:00 PM

Alabama, USA

About the event

I am so proud of our church for voting last month to be a UCC Racial Justice Church. We are one of very few UCC churches in New Hampshire that have taken this step to gain awareness about implicit bias, to take stands for racial justice, and to share with others about this important social issue. Our vote was enthusiastic and close to unanimous, but this is only the first step. We have much to do to “practice what we preach.” 

Last October, I joined twenty others from New Hampshire to travel to Alabama. The trip was part of the National Compassionate Listening Project. The trip was relevant and profoundly impactful on issues of historical and current racial inequality. We visited people and sites that were pivotal in the struggles for civil rights and still today are part of the work to bring understanding and compassion to all people regardless of race. This program trains and guides participants to listen to opinions with an open heart and receptive mind. We had training sessions beforehand to practice compassionate listening.

In Alabama we met with and heard the stories of people on both sides of racial issues and civil rights history. We ate amazing Southern cuisine. We toured the “First White House of the Confederacy;” visited with a lawyer who supports the protection and perpetuation of Confederate War monuments; walked the Edmund Pettus bridge (site of “Bloody Sunday” where John Lewis and many others were severely beaten); talked with a woman who, as a child, ran with her little brother that day from the violence on the bridge; spent time at the powerful Legacy Museum that illustrates the years of struggle and progress towards civil rights for all people; and visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice that documents many years of lynching. It is documented that from 1882 to 1968 a total of 3,446 Black people were lynched in 37 states. Many of these experiences during our trip were challenging and emotional!

I was moved and changed by this trip. It helped me better understand racial issues in my own community, especially for my immigrant friends of color, an issue that compounds the challenges of adjusting to cultural and linguistic differences.

Fortunately, another trip is planned. In January 2024, Concord resident Joel Berman and Yael Petretti of Massachusetts will again lead a Compassionate Listening group to Alabama. I encourage you to go on this trip. It is an excellent opportunity to bring back issues and discussion topics for our newly designated Racial Justice Church. In addition, I am sure the trip will have an illuminating impact on participants’ understanding of racial issues. 

Consider signing up! For more details, contact Joel or Becky Field. 

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