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Issue-based conversations the focus of MASIC public event

Issue-based conversations the focus of MASIC public event

Issue-based conversations the focus of MASIC public event

7 September 2017

We are confronted every day with moral and faith decisions that impact our lives and our communities. Photo:Brendan Church

By Anne Halliday

Helping Salvationists create meaningful, positive conversations with others about controversial moral and faith issues is the task of a public event being run by members from The Salvation Army’s Moral and Social Issues Council (MASIC) in Sydney this weekend.

The free public event on Saturday night, held as part of the council’s national conference, will be an interactive experience, helping participants navigate contemporary issues such as euthanasia, surrogacy or genetic engineering using the process of Faith-Based Facilitation (FBF).

For MASIC member Major Clayton Spence, the night is an opportunity for people to talk about and think through issues that matter to them in a way that is safe and without judgment.

“Every day we are confronted with moral decisions in a way that we haven’t in the past. For example, couples are faced with decisions around abortion in ways that they weren’t 25 years ago. Now we have medical tests that can identify that something is wrong and they are asked, ‘do you want to abort this baby, because there is something wrong’, but in the past we would never have known there was a problem.”

While MASIC is charged with helping Salvationists with moral, religious and social issues through their positional statements, guidelines and discussion papers, Major Spence says we need help with facing the multitude of everyday moral dilemmas in ways that reflect our faith and bring life to the communities and relationships around us.
“MASIC will never be able to write enough papers such as Positional Statements to cover every issue that individuals face. We have to help people with the tools for making their own decisions,” he says.

“FBF helps us through a facilitation process; firstly, to hear other voices and enables us to bring respect to that listening. And it also creates a space for us to be heard.

“Secondly, the faith element of FBF helps us to come back to some basic questions about what bearing our faith might have on the issue we are exploring.”

Major Spence said having conversations about big moral issues are often difficult because of their complexity and the personal connection they have to our history, our faith or those we care about.

“We would like to think there are black and white answers for everything but there isn’t. And there are often a wide range of views on a given issue. So we can have a conversation with others and not come to a definitive conclusion. And that can be uncomfortable. These issues can also be very personal. They may not affect us directly, but they may affect someone we know or they may impact the way we think about our faith, or may have a link to experiences or decisions we have made in the past.”

Major Spence said he hoped the event would help individuals, corps and groups to find new ways to grow in both their own capacity to engage with the issues of our time.

 “It is important we find a way to have these conversations. Jesus said that you will be known by your love for one another. That says to me it's not whether we agree but how we relate that is important. It’s how we can have unity, even in diversity.”

The MASIC public event will be held this Saturday (9 September) at Territorial Headquarters, 261-265 Chalmers St, Redfern from 7pm.

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