And on the third day we created Open Space …
Well, we didn’t “create” it – but you get the idea… Open Space Technology launched on the third day of the Synod meeting with The General Secretary encouraging people to embrace the new initiative and to keep the Spirit going, “We are meant to be prisoners of hope, people who can see a better future,” he said. The concept of Open Space is that participants create the agenda through a marketplace of ideas and then follow up, allocate action in areas they feel most passionate about.
Andrew Rixon, the facilitator for Open Space hails from Narrabri and is passionate about helping organisations get a clearer strategy together.
“People are invited to share a topic they feel passionate about in the first day and day two is all about what they are going to do, the call to action,” explained Andrew of the model of facilitation.
He invited anyone and everyone if they wished, to raise a topic that connects with the theme, “Renewing our church, the issues and opportunities,” to participate in a dialogue about their passions with the Church and how to find expression for this.
Over 300 Synod members seated in amazing concentric circles looked something like a space ship ready to orbit the Synod as fellow Pilgrims on a journey. As the session progressed it became clear that members were not taking off into orbit just yet but had some work to do in groups.
Explaining to members how the groups may operate Andrew Rixon said, “Some may never even attend a group, some are like butterflies hovering on the edges. In science butterflies are supposed to indicate a healthy eco system. Then there are the bumble bees wondering around cross pollinating ideas taking them to different places.”
A few quick rules were shared such as SPE’s which stands for ‘some place else’ where people are free to wonder off at any time. Open Space runs on the principal of passion and responsibility.
Principles include whoever comes are the right people. The one law of open space is the ‘law of two feet’ which says if you are not learning or contributing, move to a space where you can. “This is a different kind of meeting where it is fine to walk off to another place,” says Andrew.
A flood of topics was raised by group conveners and placed on the market place wall becoming the agenda. Topics ranged from covering domestic violence, teaching spiritual practices, outdoor church, young people engagement, reviving and reimagining church, running and building a prison on UCA values, giving expression to the covenant between UAICC presbyteries and congregations and reduction of suicide to doing multiculturalism in the church, acting for a healthy climate, communication and entrepreneurship in the church.
Today members are writing a book! And who can’t wait to read it?