West Bloomfield Declaration: Where did it come from?
Updated: Feb 10, 2018
In early 2017 Paul Hudson, Rev. Corey Keyes and Hank Stone met for breakfast and talked about problems facing society. What was wrong? And what would if look like if things were "right?"
We felt that face-to-face discussions might help. Corey is pastor of the West Bloomfield UCC and was sensitive to divisions in his congregation following the 2016 election. He saw that good people were finding themselves at odds with other good people. Of course, this was a problem for the whole society, not just one church.
We decided to get a balance of people with different views to meet. Everyone understood the need for confidentiality, respect, and kindness. We could talk honestly and safely about our views without the need to convince others. In this we succeeded about 99%! We set out to answer the question: Where should society go from here to get us all to the future we want? Our Thought Experiment was this: If Moses came down from the mountain with updated instructions for humanity, what should those instructions be?
Focusing on the future rather than the past or the present made it easy for us all to be allies. In a polarized society, we worked to find agreements. Here is the process: We raised ideas; split them into logically themed (and numbered) statements; and discussed each one, often at length. Did everyone agree? If so, we added to our master list of consensus statements. If we did not all agree, we considered whether it might be reworded to "work" for everyone, thus amending or even dropping statements.
The initial group was eight people, mostly retired. But others joined us when they could. Fifteen or so others (including teens) dropped in from time to time to visit and share thoughts. We met twice monthly. Every meeting offered earnest and engaging conversation. We usually started by reviewing the current master list of consensus statements, or some assigned statements to ponder during hiatus. The process was the point. To reach the Consensus Statement master list, everyone must agree.
After we reached about 40 Consensus Statements, we felt that we had something significant to say to the world. The body of statements became the Declaration. Our intent is to disseminate the West Bloomfield Declaration widely, because we think it has something important to say for these times.