Wider church invited into ‘play space’ with the GMP – interactive, creative sessions on future issues

When you get some new technology — a new phone, a computer upgrade or this year’s automobile — don’t you want to play with it to see what it can do?

That’s the idea behind a series of one-hour sessions that the United Church of Christ National Setting is calling “Create Playspace with the President.”

Opening up Mission Central

In this case, the new technology is Mission Central — a tricked-out conference room at the national offices in Cleveland. The space has several screens for displaying different images, walls you can write on and cameras you can control. The room has been designed to be used in an interactive way.

The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, general minister and president, was thinking about it over the holidays — and decided he wanted to see exactly how interactive and inclusive Mission Central’s technology can be. So he is inviting the wider church into Mission Central over the course of the next four months — creating ‘play space’ in a series of discussions around issues that matter.

“I want this to be a learning experience for us — to have as many people as possible participate,” he said. “I want to create opportunities to get people in the room with a virtual audience — and have those participants feel like they are there.”

Discussions, dates, presenters

On Wednesdays from February through May, Dorhauer has arranged eight different conversations, each with a unique topic and facilitator. And, he said, the interactive experience will be just as important as the discussion.

In each session, he hopes to gather “a fully engaged, interactive audience to share the latest thinking about what is happening to give shape to a future in which we (the UCC) matter.”

Dorhauer will lead the first and last conversation. All will take place at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT). Here’s the complete list by date, noting topics and facilitators:

  • Feb. 15 — What is the best or most exciting tech innovation you are incorporating into your ministry and how is it changing your future?
  • Provocateur: The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president. Register here.
  • Mar. 15 — How do we fund the future?
  • Provocateurs: The Rev. Kent Siladi, UCC director of philanthropy, and the Rev. Andrew Warner, generosity outreach officer in the UCC Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity and Communication. Register here.
  • Apr. 5 — How we gather: Where are future faith seekers finding access to their Sacred?
  • Provocateur: Casper ter Kuile — co-author of How We Gather, and co-founders of The Sacred Design Lab. Register here.
  • Apr. 12 — How do we effectively use social media to message progressive Christianity?
  • Provocateur: The Rev. Sarah TevisTownes, pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Albuquerque N.M., and a Tik-Tok innovator who has built a large following using video shorts to teach the world about progressive faith. Register here.
  • May 17 — What is changing in ministry?
  • Provocateur: The Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, team leader of Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA), Justice and Local Church Ministries. Register here.
  • May 31 — What has been your most important COVID shift?
  • Provocateur: The Rev. John C. Dorhauer. Register here.

The format for each hour-long discussion will be the same: the presenter will have 10 minutes at the start to frame the conversation, and what follows, Dorhauer hopes, will be “free-form conversation and creative thinking where people use the screens, the walls to make their point.”

Playing — to create a model

The general minister and president hopes that creating this time for play space around key topics serves as a model for the national staff — to show how Mission Central can be used to invite people in.

“As important as the subjects, and as important as whatever content will be developed in the shared conversations, so will be simply the act of gathering and the art of play,” Dorhauer said. “We have the capacity to hear each other, to see each other, to share our visions and our experiences and to give shape to a future we want to build together and to do that in real time. So let’s learn how to do that.

“For the National Setting and the wider church to both model that listening posture and architect the play space within which that can occur is a vital ingredient in our being able to serve the church fully and serve it well.

”Join us as we play,” he urged. “Enter our virtual play space and engage with us in the unfolding of your visions and dreams. Join us on all or any of the Wednesdays listed either to hear a new idea or contribute to the unfolding of our future together. All are welcome. We look forward to your participation, and if not that, your prayerful support of what might happen when we engage the Holy Spirit together in the work of being the Church.” 


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Categories: From the General Minister and President United Church of Christ News

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