Becoming Beloved Community – The 5Ws and How

Jan 29, 2019 | Proclaiming the Dream

In 2019, the Becoming Beloved Community Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana surveyed the parishes of the diocese to determine what BBC work the parishes were already engaging and how the Commission might better support the parishes in their work. One oft-repeated request was for resources on how to make the case for becoming beloved community as part of the work of the church.

This 90-minute online workshop represents the Commission’s first response to that request. Targeted at clergy and lay leaders who want to engage other members of their faith communities in the work of becoming beloved community, it covers 6 main topics:

  • Why do we seek to Become Beloved Community?
  • What is Beloved Community
  • Who should be doing this work?
  • When should we do it?
  • Where do we find opportunities for doing it?
  • How do we encourage others to join us in this work?

The Why portion addresses not only the promises we make in our Baptismal Covenant, but also both the historical complicity of the Episcopal Church in systems of racial injustice and the attempts the church has made to mandate positive change. The What portion addresses the nature of Christian love and the ways in which sin undermines that love. The How portion addresses adjusting the medium to fit the audience, potential sources of resistance, and maintaining stamina in the midst of what can be exhausting work.

The Commission offered a “trial run” of the workshop in the summer of 2021 and two sessions in the Fall of that year. 5-6 presenters facilitated each workshop.


Like all things initially proposed as in-person workshops in late 2019, this project faced the challenge of pivoting to Zoom. We planned breakout sessions to restore the relationship-building opportunities that were lost to the electronic medium, and those worked reasonably well. An advantage to the use of Zoom was the convenience with which we could repeat the workshop, without the need for securing space, etc. Zoom also allowed us to record one of the sessions in a minimally invasive way.

The trial run, in which we presented the workshop to a small group of “insiders,” taught us many things about timing and order of presentation. Afterwards, we re-arranged topics/slides, trimmed some sections and expanded others. We deliberately re-assigned speaking roles, with the goal of enabling different presenters to take those roles on different occasions.


This was an intentionally collaborative process shared among 8 members of our Becoming Beloved Community Commission, meeting over Zoom during the pandemic. One of our members got us started by showing us  a slide deck she had used for a similar workshop at the University of Notre Dame. After an initial conversation about what changes the differences in context might require, we created a set of Google slides and assigned different sections to different Commission members. We then ran through the resulting slides together, adjusting for overlap, filling gaps, etc. As described above, we offered a “trial run” to a select group of participants, after which we adjusted again.

The only supplies needed for this project were access to Google Slides and to Zoom. The cost was free.

The Main Event

The slide deck

The Invitations

The “Trial Run” Invitation

































The “Main Event” Invitation

The video


The feedback we received from our “trial run” was more explicitly sought and particularly useful. The response was largely positive. Indeed, we had not initially intended to record any of the sessions, but decided to after several requests prior to and during that session.

We realized during the feedback session that people thought we were giving them something they could take and “play” for their congregations. We adjusted our “framing” language in response so as to make it clear that we were training participants to go and make the case for Becoming Beloved Community themselves.

Feedback from the main sessions was also positive, though less formalized. We will be offering this workshop again. In both sets of feedback we heard particular interest in the historical piece, so we are also considering a stand-alone workshop on race in the Episcopal Church.

Ideas for Adaptation

Only a handful of slides for this workshop are focused on the specifics of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, so this workshop could be easily adapted for use elsewhere in the Episcopal Church. For use in non-Episcopal Settings, the historical pieces would need adaptation as well.

This workshop was designed to stand alone, but it could easily be used as one session among several in a conference or retreat setting.

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Rev. Cn. Terri L. Bays

Missioner for Transitions and Formation
Diocese of Northern Indiana

Terri Bays is the Missioner for Transitions and Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, a position which includes serving as staff liaison to the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Commission. Terri has served as a priest at the Cathedral of St. James and at the Church of the Holy Trinity, both in South Bend, Indiana.

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