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Talking Points to cover civility in a divisive political climate

By Staff | Feb 12, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Rev. Dr. John H. Danner

The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner, senior pastor at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, will lead a workshop on “Civility: How to Talk to Each Other in a Divisive Political Climate.”

“I think the environment we find ourselves in is so polarized, so partisan, so unforgiving. We are not allowing one another the space necessary for reaching any compromise, let alone concession,” he said.

Appearing on Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. at the BIG ARTS Strauss Theater, Danner is the third of six weekly presenters in the Talking Points series. He will start by offering techniques for civil discourse, including active listening and compassionate give-and-take.

“This will serve as a refresher, since we all learned these techniques at one point, but they may have fallen by the wayside,” Danner said.

Participants will then divide into groups to practice their new-found skills while discussing immigration policy in the United States. He explained that immigration is a good testing ground because it is not often intensely personal, but people have strong feelings about it.

“The idea is that participants can practice hashing out their beliefs in a controlled environment and, later, in the wider world,” Danner said, adding that the goal of the session “is to offering a glimmer of hope for reconciliation.”

Before coming to Sanibel in 2002, he served churches in the Northeast, most recently in Westport, Connecticut. Danner holds degrees from Bradford College, the University of Maine Bangor Theological Seminary and Boston University. He has trained as a pastoral psychotherapist and is a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Danner is the immediate past president of the Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club.

With Danner at the helm, the SCUCC is an example of how people of different ideologies can work harmoniously together. Since 1992, the church has shared space with the Bat Yam Temple of the Islands. The two organizations have sponsored a joint trip to Israel and collaborate on various outreach committees. They produce the musical program “Three Cantors and A Pastor,” and once a year they switch pulpits and address each other’s congregation.

Tickets for $20 and include a complimentary wine reception with the lecturer following the talk.

The Sanibel & Captiva Trust Company is the company sponsor for Talking Points.

For tickets, visit www.BIGARTS.org, call 239-395-0900 or visit the box office, at 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel. The evening of the lecture, tickets will be sold beginning at 3 p.m. at the Strauss Theatre.

The Strauss Theatre is at 2200 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.