Conversation Matters event to explain how to discuss divisive issues

Holly Viers • May 6, 2018 at 9:30 AM

KINGSPORT — Both locally and nationally, people remain divided on a number of hot-button topics, including gun control, immigration and sexuality.

That’s why First Broad Street United Methodist Church is bringing back its Conversation Matters event for the second year. The event aims to help people have more productive conversations about controversial issues.

“Our goal with this event … is to simply say there are places where Christians disagree, and if we can learn how to have conversations with each other, and if we can learn how to be constructive in our conversations, then I think the church can make a difference and sort of be a spotlight … and be a model for the rest of society,” said the Rev. Harrison Bell, associate pastor.

Event details

The event will be held Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the fellowship hall of the church, which is located at 100 E. Church Circle. The event is free, and lunch will be provided.

Participants are asked to preregister by May 9 by calling the church’s reservation line at (423) 224-1502. Two hundred seats are available.

What to expect

Bell said this year’s event will be similar to last year’s, though a few of the discussion topics have changed. The event will begin with a teaching time, followed by a lunch session, during which instructors will model what a constructive conversation looks like.

Later in the afternoon, participants will have an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned by discussing one of six divisive topics: racial issues, immigration, gun control, same sex marriage, transgender issues and patriotism.

Why you should participate

After the event’s “overwhelming success” last year, Bell hopes this year’s event will once again give people the tools to have productive conversations with people with whom they disagree.

“We’re trying to teach that skillset so that you can take it to your home, to your workplace, to your friends,” Bell said. “So when you enter into conversations that can be very difficult and be very divisive, you’re able to have a skill to be able to have a constructive conversation.”

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