Warwick’s Trinitarian Congregational Church holding weekly Lenten Discussion Group

  • The Rev. Dan Dibble in the Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 2/19/2021 3:05:35 PM

WARWICK — The Trinitarian Congregational Church is hosting a weekly Lenten Discussion Group, with conversations that will “delve into our current sociopolitical religious confrontations with the hope of finding some way forward to healing our fractured society.”

The Rev. Dan Dibble has helped organize the discussions, which began on Feb. 17 and will run through March 31, each Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. The conversations will incorporate video presentations from Valarie Kaur, an author, activist, lawyer and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Through the Revolutionary Love Project, Kaur developed 10 “core practices,” and Dibble said participants will use these practices to begin each of the seven discussions.

The topics in Kaur’s presentations are: wonder, grieve, fight, rage, listen, reimagine, breathe, push, transition and joy. Although each week builds on the past week’s topic, Dibble said he thinks participants will be able to hold meaningful discussions, even if they ultimately decide to skip one or two of the topics.

“There are only seven Wednesdays in Lent, so we will need to either choose the topics when we begin or decide if we want to cover all the discussions by extending our group after Easter,” Dibble explained. “But I have a feeling we’ll go to 10.”

Dibble said he first learned about Kaur four years ago, when he attended a convention where she was a keynote speaker.

“She was speaking to me pretty clearly, it seemed,” Dibble said. “I’ve been following her ever since.”

Kaur’s book, “See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love,” was published last year and, Dibble said, features conversational topics that are “necessary at this time in our society.” He said topics that may be breached as part of the seven-week, or longer, conversation series include the “real divide” between “the Christian far-right and the rest of society.” Additionally, he expects race and racism to be a topic of discussion.

“(Kaur’s) story begins with her uncle being the first person killed after the 9/11 attack,” Dibble said.

Kaur is of Sikh faith, as was her “uncle” and family friend Balbir Singh Sodhi who, as part of his faith, wore a turban. Sodhi was shot and killed at the gas station he owned as part of a hate crime in Mesa, Ariz., just four days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. His killer, a man named Frank Roque, shot Sodhi five times before moving to other locations and shooting at more people. Sodhi’s murder was the first in a slew of hate crimes against Sikh and Muslim Americans in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In 2017, Kaur and Sodhi’s brother, Rana, called Roque in prison where he is serving a life sentence. Ultimately, this conversation saw the two forgive Roque, who apologized for what he had done. This story is just one example of the messages of grief, rage, listening and more that are echoed in Kaur’s work.

The Trinitarian Congregational Church conversations will be held in a hybrid setting, with some space available in the Metcalf Chapel at 32 Athol Road — with in-person attendees watching on a projected screen, while wearing masks and practicing social distancing — and others participating via Zoom. Dibble requests those who are interested in participating to contact the church at metcalfucc@gmail.com or 978-544-2630 to coordinate in-person or virtual attendance.

Dibble said the first discussion on Feb. 17 was a success, with around 14 people considering “wonder,” the first topic from Kaur’s book.

“Each issue she works with is essentially a chapter in the book,” Dibble noted.

He said “wonder” involves how a person’s first reaction to something can feel like fear or surprise, and the concept of “wonder” gets at working past that initial reaction to a point where you can control your response and reach a “point of reconciliation.”

Some members of the Feb. 13 group had already emailed Dibble as of Thursday morning, asking if they could invite others to participate in the ongoing discussions. He said this is a positive sign, and means attendees likely connected with Kaur’s messages.

Kaur’s book, “See No Stranger,” is available to check out from the Warwick Free Public Library.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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