Circles of Empathy is a small-group discussion practice that helps straight and LGBTQI/SSA Mormons engage in the critical and challenging conversations about the conflict between the teachings of the LDS Church and their feelings about homosexuality or homosexual loved ones. We’ll dialogue about how to implement the Circles of Empathy practice in our own hearts, homes, and communities. Through this practice, we can find hope of achieving peace with all the things we care about most, such as: our basic humanity, our relationship to family, our identity and potential as a child of God, how we treat others and how they treat us, and what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
Thursday, November 19, 7:30-9:30 pm
Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT
Please come in the back door if you arrive late.
Kendall Wilcox grew up in an LDS home, served a mission for the LDS church in Barcelona, Spain, and graduated from Brigham Young University. Over the years, Kendall has produced hundreds of hours of Emmy Award-winning nonfiction television programming for the Discovery Channel, BYU Television, and PBS and has taught courses in documentary production at BYU. Kendall has enjoyed his church service over the years in callings ranging from Ward Clerk to Elder’s Quorum and Sunday School President but his favorite callings have been Sunday School Teacher and Home-Teacher. Since 2010, Kendall has been producing a documentary called Far Between that portrays what it means to be LGBTQI/SSA and Mormon. In 2011, Kendall founded the Empathy First Initiative which is dedicated to cultivating habits of empathy for addressing divisive social issues. In 2012, Kendall stepped in to help Erika Munson found Mormons Building Bridges. Since 2013, Kendall has developed and grown Circles of Empathy, which is a small-group discussion practice that helps straight and LGBTQI/SSA Mormons engage in the critical and challenging conversations about the conflict between the teachings of the LDS Church and their feelings about homosexuality or homosexual loved ones. Kendall continues to gather and curate stories of what it means to be LGBT and Mormon in various venues including the ongoing partnership with the Utah Pride Center called Utah LGBTQ Stories and the upcoming documentary The Kitchen Case: Utah’s Battle Over Same Sex Marriage.
For many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, conflicts between the teachings of the LDS Church and their own feelings about homosexuality and/or transgender identity can be painfully disorienting. Managing these conflicts internally can be difficult enough, but facing conversations about these conflicts with loved ones or ecclesiastical leaders can be even more daunting.Circles of Empathy are small discussion groups that help participants sort through their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs while practicing empathy and healthy interpersonal boundaries. They constitute a practice, or a way of approaching the religious, sexual, and gender conflicts through self-reflection, open-ended conversation, and empathetic support. Each time you meet, just follow the simple process and adhere to the guidelines explained on this website. No special training is required. Many current and former Mormons have found the Circles of Empathy practice helpful, particularly when they can’t access therapeutic support (do to lack of money, trust issues, time, distance, etc). The Eight Fundamental Questions at the heart of the practice, arose out of the over 300 interviews for the Far Between documentary. After processing the interviews to reveal the patterns of behavior and thought, the eight fundamental questions revealed themselves as the most salient and pivotal to understanding how and why we choose to live our lives given the similar set of circumstances (i.e.: same-sex attracted and Mormon or living an LGBT person and having faith in the LDS Church).
Read, listen, watch:
Explore the Circles of Empathy website and come prepared with thoughts and questions about how to implement the Circles practice in their own life.