Sacred Ground – Bethany Gugliemino

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I started attending St. Paul’s in May of this year, when the first Sacred Ground circles were forming. I
mention this timing because it was also my first time coming back to church in almost a decade, and I had a lot of questions. One question in particular gnawed at me – what does it mean to be Christian when
Christianity has been and continues to be used to justify violence and oppression? When it has been and
continues to be used by the powerful to uphold their (our, my) power and status? The Sacred Ground
course seemed like it could be the right place to explore these questions as I started finding my place in
this community.
Others have spoken about the content of the course, so I won’t repeat them here (although if you’d like to learn more, you can do so at this link). Each session could be an entire course in itself, but the readings
and films are well-chosen to provide a thorough introduction for those who are newer to the topics
covered, and to offer enriching detail for those who are already familiar with the content.
Sacred Ground, for me, has been an exercise in listening, in patience, in sitting with the history that we’re
learning and the feelings that it brings up. My tendency is to intellectualize difficult subjects, to break
them down into systems and structures that I feel like I can wrap my mind around. Structures can be
changed, they can be dismantled and rebuilt in new, just, and equitable forms; but anger and grief can’t be contained by a list of action items. Sacred Ground offers us the opportunity to feel this often painful
history, to consider how it has and continues to shape us, and to ask how we move with it and in it as we
look forward. And, most importantly, Sacred Ground gives us the chance to do this work with each other.
I am so grateful to each person in the circle I am a part of, for sharing of themselves and creating a space
where we can ask questions and learn from one another, and I feel blessed to be a part of the whole
community at St. Paul’s that has committed to continuing this journey together.

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