February 2023

Topic – Faithful Civility

Speaker: Group Discussion

Date: February 16th

Intro: As we have met with leadership and some of you, one of the most common issues that have risen to the forefront is that of civility. In most of our meetings with administrators and leaders, this will be discussed. Stepping back and looking at a societal context the issue is still present. Therefore the issue of civility is proving to be one of the main challenges/needs that we are facing both in our daily lives and in our communities both large and small.

Question 1 As you think about the issue of civility, let us take some time to define the problem. What is missing? What are the needs? What is going on?

Question 2 Is the universal church “Christians” complicit in creating this lack of civility? If so, how? Deeper still: Has the Christian community here at UT been complicit? If so, how?

Question 3 As Christians, we are held to a higher standard and called to be peacemakers. How do we own this responsibility?

Question 4 Take some time to think about what it would look like if Christians were agents of civility both in a large and small context. Describe what that would look like both personally, professionally and communally.


Identified the need to define what we mean by Civility. (There can be cynicism around the word.) Our ideas of what Civility means: Good manners, being respectful (even if you don’t respect the belief or idea or even the person), avoiding attack, to view them as colleagues and not as an enemy. The ability to disagree agreeably.

What feeds incivility?

● Villianizing/Demonizing: viewing and treating the other person as the enemy.

● Labeling: the other as Good or Evil, safe or dangerous, etc.

● Weaponizing: our rhetoric, our view.

● Generalizing or Universalizing: “They ALL..”, “You ALWAYS…” How has the church been complicite?

● By using the same tactics

● By lashing out when we’ve felt threatened

● By “turtling” – timidly pulling in and disappearing and never addressing it.

● By “siloing” – staying in our safe and comfortable echo chamber.

Maybe the Art of Civility involves de-escalation, turning down the volume of the conversation. Recognizing the Imago Dei of “the other” and moving into the conversation with that as a guide. Recognizing in ourselves how we may intentionally or unintentionally feed incivility.

Next month we’ll explore this more deeply with a panel of folks from UT who live on the front lines of many of the bigger and more public issues that are the fuel for much of the incivility we experience today.

David Miller – CFO of the UT System

Melissa Tindell – Exec. Director of Communications for UT System.

Matthew Scoggins – former Chief Counsel, current Chief of Staff to the Chancellor.

March 23rd, 11:15 am Baptist Campus Ministry – Lunch Provided

**Please register via this link**

Thoughts on Shepherding

In response to the current mental health crisis and societal shifts, Collegiate Abbey is developing a new resource for the front-line faculty, staff, and administration of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville who are experiencing the effects and challenges during this time.

Shepherds’ Abbey is a practical resource to help leaders be aware of and care for the needs of others as they walk with God and cultivate healthy and flourishing communities. This resource will launch during the Summer of 2023. Please stay tuned to learn how you and others can participate and take advantage of this new resource.


What we are praying for you:

May you learn to love learning, for the world is the Lord’s, and all the things in it speak of the Lord. They teach us of your mind, your designs, your artistry, your power, and your unfolding purpose. All knowledge is the Lord’s. All wisdom is the Lord’s. Therefore may you apply yourself to learning and be mindful that all created things are the Lord’s creative expression, that all stories are held within His greater story, and that all disciplines of order and design are a chasing after His thoughts – so that greater mastery of these subjects will yield ever greater knowledge of the symmetry and wonder of His ways.

How you can pray for us:

  • Please pray for wisdom and discernment as we serve you and the campus community.
  • Please pray for God’s continued provision as the ministry of Collegiate Abbey grows and develops.
  • Please pray for our families and spouses, for their safety and protection and flourishing.
  • Please pray for our March events and the details to come together.
  • Please pray for our new resource “Shepherd’s Abbey” which is currently in development.

britton sharp

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