Just Launched: Practical Forgiveness with Rob Voyle


We just launched Practical Forgiveness with Rob Voyle For Individuals and For Groups. This class takes a hands-on, method-oriented approach to the process of learning to forgive.

Frederick Beuchner once wrote:

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

The kind of anger that Beuchner describes here is resentment. If you have ever found yourself caught in a pattern of resentment from which you have trouble breaking free, Rob Voyle’s class may be useful to you.

In this class, Rob Voyle, an Episcopal priest and faculty member at the Clergy Leadership Institute with years of experience and advanced degrees in psychology and counseling, offers methods to help people move from resentment to forgiveness. In his lectures, Rob defines both terms and offers reasons for people to pursue forgiveness. He distinguishes between forgiveness and reconciliation and discusses healthy ways to manage forgiveness without opening ourselves up to being hurt again by the same people. Finally, he offers practical spiritual and mental practices to help people break out of the cycle of resentment, wish those who hurt us well, and move on with our work of “walking in love as Christ loved us.”

For a preview of Rob’s class, click here.



Dear Big Class Participants: Thank You.

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We always enjoy Big Class time. It’s engaging and exciting to follow so many quality conversations between so many people on important topics. Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer has wrapped up as a Big Class (though a number of people have purchased it since it closed, or are planning to use it as part of their annual subscription). We want to thank all who participated. Parker Palmer’s wisdom offered much food for thought, but, as always, what moved the class beyond the lectures was your thoughtful, discerning engagement with the lectures and with one another. You continue to bring much of what these classes have to offer, and for that, we thank you.

Bridging the Political Divide enrolled more students than any Big Class has ever had —  2,842 people registered for the course. Many of those people took the class in groups with others from their congregations, so the class reached even more people than that number reflects. Of the people who filled out the class survey at the end, 93% were satisfied or very satisfied with their course experience, and nobody was dissatisfied.

Many people appreciated Parker Palmer’s lectures and overall demeanor, generally agreeing in sentiment with the student who wrote, “Parker Palmer is so cool.” In particular, numerous people mentioned Parker’s “concept of hope and cynicism being the biggest divide between us.” Others appreciated Parker’s advice about “how to engage with people of different political views” and his suggestions for “specific language with which to interpret conversations in a tailspin.”

Other students made specific mention of the high quality discussions that took place. One student wrote about appreciating “the opportunity to share discussion with others in a meaningful way,” while another liked “the conversation with others and being able to ‘upvote’ the responses.” That’s on you. Thank you for providing your valuable insights and adding value to this discussion.

Finally, one more thanks to Forward Movement, The Episcopal Church, Bexley Seabury Seminary, Living Compass, and the Center for Courage and Renewal for making it possible for this class to reach so many people. Thank you!



Tomorrow’s the Last Day.Take The Big Class: Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer.

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The Big Class: Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer runs through Sept. 19. Today is Sept. 18. You can see where we’re going with this.

If you have signed up with the idea that you have plenty of time to take it — you do! Today and tomorrow. Two whole days. If you are planning to sign up and take it when you get a chance — go ahead and do it! Today or tomorrow. It takes less than an hour to take the whole thing. If your friend is interested and you meant to forward her the link — do it! Just tell her to take it today or tomorrow.

Really, it’s well worth the effort. Parker Palmer’s ideas about handling discordant political beliefs are wise — and this election season isn’t going anywhere until November 9. It’s well worth 45 minutes on the computer to take a free class from a wise man who will give you some skills to surf the negativity — and even make the differences between us opportunities for growth.

It’s that that you can’t take it after Monday — just that you will have to be a subscriber or pay for the class. But today and tomorrow, it’s free to anyone in the world who wants to take it. Put aside some time for later today — or just stay on the computer now — and take Parker’s class.

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Some of Your Thoughts on Bridging the Political Divide


Work 1The Big Class: Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer  now has over 2200 students taking it. Parker’s lectures have provoked many insightful comments in the discussion section. Here are a few of your responses to the class’s discussion questions:

On whether or not we should maintain silence on politics with those who disagree with us:

I think silence is an essential part of true dialogue. Not just the silence of waiting for your turn to talk, but the silence and stillness that come with really listening to others with an open and humble heart. That said, when someone in the dialogue says things that are harmful or degrading to a person or group of people, silence is a participation in that, and it is not being in right relationship with our brothers and sisters who are being demeaned to remain silent. But prayerfully try as I might I too often am not able to discern when I need to deeply listen in silence or to speak up at difficult but needed times.

On maintaining space in conversations for disagreements without betraying our core values:

Respectful conversation can clarify commonality of core values. For example, in the case of abortion untitled-design-1the pro-Lifer might agree with the pro-Choice argument that an outright ban simply drives abortion into the back streets, the common value here being law and order or the desirability of minimizing crime.


Respect for others’ beliefs is a value in itself.

On the qualities held by good citizens in our communities:

  • Humility – knowing no one person or party or perspective has a corner on the truth.
  • Openness to learn – becoming informed, study, reading beyond mainstream media, from all sources – from those who share opinions and others
  • Positive attitude about our connection with each other and possibilities that may emerge as we listen to each other and work together on solutions for the greater good.

On using the internet for productive political conversation:

Researchers tell us that effective communication across a wide range of settings (marriage, work, politics, etc.) is built on a foundation in which inquiry outweighs advocacy by a significant margin.The trouble with so many online “conversations” is that they almost exclusively take the form of advocacy. All chutzpah and no humility. As a result, we never really get to know the hopes, dreams, and fears behind these often strident words. More questions and fewer assertions can help create the safe space needed to explore complexity.

Thanks to you all for the high quality discussions that you are having. Please keep the insights coming!



Launching Today — The Big Class: Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer

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Today, we launch Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer. It will be available for free to anyone who wants to take it from today through September 19.After that date, it will remain available to ChurchNext subscribers and for purchase.

We offer this class as a ministry that we feel America really could use right now. Political divisions, for good and ill, are nothing new in the U.S., but lately, they have been unhealthy, not only between the candidates on each side of the aisle, but among their supporters. In the past couple of decades, a Pew research study shows, extreme antipathy between Democrats and Republicans has risen sharply, with many members of each party viewing the other party as actively dangerous for the country. An exceptionally vitriolic election season has done nothing to dampen these party-based hostilities.

In this class, author and activist Parker Palmer discusses the sources of today’s antipathies and talks about ways for us to engage in productive political discourse. He suggests that while healthy divisions strengthen American politics, unhealthy divisions bring us down socially and politically. He offers guidance in how to re-frame our approach to political thinking and conversation to produce better discussions, better politics, and better relationships.

We hope that you will enjoy this class and spread the word about it to your friends across the political spectrum. Would would like to thank Forward Movement, The Episcopal Church, Bexley Seabury SeminaryLiving Compass, and the Center for Courage & Renewal for making it possible for us to offer this class free for these two weeks.

For more information about taking Bridging the Political Divide, please click here. For a preview, please click below.

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5 Ways to Use Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer at Your Church

P Palmer newStart fall programs at your church off with a bang during this election season by bringing respected author and activist Parker Palmer in to talk about productive political discourse. As you may know, from Sept. 5-19, we will be offering Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer for free to anyone who wants to take it. After Sept. 19, we will offer the class in the usual way, For Individuals and For Groups, to churches with ChurchNext subscriptions and for individual purchase.

For those who are new to ChurchNext, the classes consist of four lectures of about five minutes each. Each lecture is accompanied by a short written introduction, a brief, optional quiz, and three discussion questions. In group settings, people often skip the quiz and go straight to the discussion questions.

So what are some ways to use this class in your congregation?

  1. Use it in adult forum. During this election season in particular, people are feeling alienated from each other by politics. Help guide your congregation through the divisive rhetoric of this time by offering this class in one or two sessions of adult forum. This approach is especially useful for churches that want to kick off a new season of online learning or introduce online learning to their congregations. It’s a good way to get people interested, let them know that these classes are available, and show folks how they work.
  2. Use it in EYC. Parker particularly emphasizes modeling respectful interactions withteen adult conversation 2 young people. Teenagers, who are learning how to engage in adult conversation and beginning their lives as mature citizens, may profit greatly from watching these videos and engaging these discussions. Better yet, have adults and teens discuss these issues together — perhaps over a meal.
  3. Make it a hybrid class. Many churches like to use the online format to both meet in person and enjoy discussion online. Perhaps meet once in person to discuss two lectures and discuss the other two online. Perhaps have a class that watches the videos at home and discusses the questions together in person. The format is pretty flexible — be creative!
  4. Use it in Bible study. This class discusses themes that appear often in Scripture. Use Bible study groupthe class, or one of its lectures, to discuss issues in Scripture in ways that are relevant to today’s world. Take, for example, 1 Corinthians 10, in which Paul writes to the bickering Corinthians, I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Parker’s class, especially lectures two and four, would be a great way to approach this passage from Corinthians on a relevant and contemporary level.
  5. Use it to promote outreach. Outreach means reaching out to all kinds of people in the community — especially to people who are different. Parker’s class deals directly with handling differences with grace — not just avoiding discourtesy in conversation, but engaging differences and growing through communication with those whose views differ from our own. How much more outreachy can you get? Use the class to kick off the year with your outreach commission.

Have some other ideas about how to use this class with a congregation? Please comment! We’d love to share them.

Announcing The Big Class: Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer

From September 5-19 2016, ChurchNext will be offering a free class to anybody who would like to take it: Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer.

If you feel like the nation has become increasingly polarized in recent years, you’re right. Research suggests that the U.S. has become exceptionally politically divided. More than in decades past, Democrats and Republicans prefer not to marry one another, consider one another threats to the well being of the United States, and would rather their children not marry people from the other party. The current election season underlines these studies’ findings. We are in the midst of what may be the most polarizing and contentious election cycle in recent U.S. history.

Parker J. Palmer, a teacher, author, activist, and an outspoken advocate on faith and democracy issues, believes our current political climate provides a rare opportunity to think more deeply about who we are as people and a nation. His course is intended to spur thought, conversation, and action around current political tensions. The class, a series of video lectures and discussions, can be taken anytime between September 5 – 19. Students can sign up today. No special sofware is required. It will take an average learner about 45 minutes to complete. Registration is free and open worldwide.

Throughout the free course, participants are encouraged to ponder and discuss what it means to live faithfully in a society racked with political division. “We the people have made America great,” says Palmer, “and re-discovering our potential, in light of the present political climate may be our greatest challenge and reward.”

For more information and to register, click here or go to churchnext.tv > The Big Class. Also, resources for congregations, including downloadable posters, bulletin inserts and a Launch Guide can be found here or at churchnext.tv > The Big Class.

This course is made possible by the generous support of Forward Movement, The Episcopal Church, Bexley Seabury Seminary, Living Compass, and the Center for Courage & Renewal.