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Building Loving Communities

Science confirms what we know from experience–that when we have positive social relationships we are healthier–as individuals, families, faith communities and neighborhoods. Science calls this “social cohesion.”  We call it love. Our core work is journeying with communities to reveal and strengthen the Loving Community that is already there.

Some of the approaches and concepts that we use to help build Loving Communities include:

CHAMP (Congregational Health Asset Mapping Partnership)

CHAMP is a series of interactive workshops in which community members, religious leaders and service providers share their experiences of where they see beauty and love at work in their congregations and communities and craft a common vision for taking action to help it grow. Learn more about CHAMP.

Theory U

Theory U is a structure for planning that we use to help us slow down and draw on our deepest wisdom in our decision-making processes. The core movements are careful observation, “presencing”–going to our Source to listen carefully for what is wanting to emerge, and then moving quickly to prototype and try out the ideas that are coming to us.

Art of Hosting

The Art of Hosting is a global community of people who develop and use creative, interactive methods for bringing people into meaningful conversations that create deeper relationships and real action plans.  These methods include things like circles, World Cafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, Storytelling and many others. We have found these methods to be very powerful for tranforming the ways we work.

Leading Causes of Life

We start with what causes life in our communities instead of being preoccupied with what’s wrong or the causes of death.  People of faith have a unique role to play in nurtuing these life causes–Connection, Blessing, Hope, Agency and Meaning.  We are grateful to our colleague and friend Gary Gunderson who developed these ideas.

Hopeful Imagination

All scriptures, all religious traditions, all faith practices offer a vision for a world that is just, caring, whole, connected to a Source beyond us.  One of the great gifts that faith communties can offer to the world is to claim that this vision is something that we can trust and reach for. Rather than looking to the past, we lean into the future that wants to emerge and learn to listen for what this new reality is calling us to.  Building Loving Communities requires this kind of new moral vision for our lives together. We use theory and techniques such as Presencing to help us cultivate this vision in our work.

Spirit Power

Just as people of faith and spirit have a unique vision, we also have the power to work toward that vision that comes from our connection to our Source, whatever we may call it.  Almost every movement for social transformation in our world has been fueled by this Spirit Power that allows people to withstand suffering and persevere in working toward something that seems impossible. We ground our work in spiritual practice, ritual and intentionally invite the Source into our conversations and efforts.

A joint project of Advocate Health Care & the OCEAN-HP at the University of Illinois at Chicago.