The genesis of “The Red Bench: Interfaith Conversations that Matter” program came from Dr. Betty Sue Flowers. When writing about the hunger for meaningful conversation, she recommended that organizations place red benches in public spaces. Her idea was simple–by sitting on one of these red benches you were signaling to others that you were open to a conversation about something that really matters to you. The red bench became both a symbol to underscore the importance of conversation and an actual place where these conversations could occur.
Interfaith Action of Central Texas launched The Red Bench program in 2009 and it has grown into a real community of sharing. The program focuses on issues that are addressed by all of the great faith traditions, including forgiveness, compassion gratitude, shame, ethics, security, equality, courage, and duty. Each monthly conversation is centered on moderated small group discussions that are genuinely respectful and safe. No one has to be an expert–individual participants are invited to share from their personal experiences and listen with their hearts. Past participants have included Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and many others. The Red Bench program is free.
The next Red Bench conversation is Tuesday, February 28th, in the Great Hall of the First UMC Family Life Center on the topic “Resentment.” A light vegetarian meal is served beginning at 6:00 p.m., the conversation begins at 6:30 p.m., and concludes by 8:00 p.m.
To register, please go to http://interfaithtexas.org/dialogue/the-red-bench/registration/. If you have questions, please contact FUMC member Sandy Wilder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-8078.