Collaborative Group Interventions
Groups That Have Moved Apart Rethink Their Future

As a result of demographic changes, a local church had moved to the suburbs and separated physically from its long-time sister church. The two, once very similar, grew very differently over time. However, financial difficulties now dictate that the downtown church must shift its members to its suburban sister church, since it is no longer viable in its current location. There are now many fears, questions, significant anger, and rifts between the members of the two communities.

The two churches' boards and clergy agree to meet at a forum to discuss how dislocation is impacting the two institutions. They invite board members, clergy, laity, and community stakeholders to the forum.

A review of the two churches' significant milestones sets the stage for discussing each congregation's hopes for the future. Each group talks about what it would have liked to have done differently up to this point, giving the groups an opportunity to review painful situations and gain a greater understanding of each other's concerns.

Participants realize there are many opportunities the new union will offer both congregations. There is a renewal of friendships, an awakening of new relationships, and a rediscovery of skills. The rich dialogue combines to allow for continuing the dialogue - but differently.

Laughter as well as expressions of angst and confusion are important mileposts on the journey when groups need to move with greater understanding to fulfill needs of different constituencies.

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