From Problem to Promise: Reframing Social Issues

Join us to explore Sevenfold, a model of social transformation that reframes work for justice from problems to be solved to the promises we serve.

Why participate in this online conversation?
Social justice work is complicated and challenging. Out of compassion and values, faith communities and multifaith groups approach issues in many different ways – often responding to suffering and needs without much help about alternative strategies, best practices, and knowledge of who else is doing what to address the problem effectively. With the goal of presenting a framework or road map to help understand the landscape, tap into our shared values, and guide decisions about taking action, the Minnesota Multifaith Network and Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation have teamed up to co-sponsor “From Problem to Promise: Reframing Social Issues” on Thursday, March 24, from 12:00-1:30pm. Rev. Dr. Steve Newcom is the featured event speaker and founding director of the Kaleo Center. Read excerpts from our interview with him now.

Q: Kaleo Center exists to “advance the theory and practice of spirit grounded movements for justice.” Tell us about Kaleo and its work.
R: Kaleo Center was launched following my Archibald Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship which researched the intersection of theological education and social justice ministry nationally. The research identified a fundamental gap within Christian seminary education around the applied competencies of social transformation and effective public engagement. The Center was launched in 2010 to address this gap with the mission of advancing social transformation as a practical theological discipline and core ministerial competency. Kaleo is a self-sustaining (we raise our own money) sponsored project at United Theological Seminary.

Q: What is Sevenfold?
R: Sevenfold provides a user-friendly, theologically grounded framework of social transformation. Drawing from research and experience Sevenfold identifies and integrates seven dimensions of social transformation. Sevenfold integrates ideas powerful enough to capture the complexity and dynamics of social transformation yet straightforward enough to be useful.. Each dimension represents a distinct and foundational aspect of social transformation. The dimensions are distinct, easily identified and reflect real-world strategies. The dimensions and the framework as a whole are inclusive, each dimension holds a large number of particular actions without losing its distinctiveness. Each is powerful in its own right and provides a rich body of knowledge and practice. When assembled into a whole, the framework provides a user-friendly dynamic model of social transformation which can deepen our understanding about what is really going on and align strategic action for transformational impact.

Q: What is meant by Social Transformation?
R: Many authors differentiate social transformation from large scale interventions or social movements by pointing to the complexity and saying social transformation is bigger – it goes out beyond the boundaries of typical collaboration, it goes up to more encompassing levels and down to deep-seated systemic change. I build on these characteristics to offer a definition of social transformation. Social transformation occurs when we ignite souls, empower persons, change systems, organize commitment, enliven movements, transform worldviews, in service to life’s deepest Promises. The magnitude of the transformation is a function of how fully each dimension is expressed. That means there is no single strategy which will create the transformation we are seeking. All seven dimensions need to be utilized and aligned for maximum impact.

Q: This event is open to anyone with interest, but who do you think could benefit professionally by attending?
R: Anyone who works for change, in whatever context or issue area can utilize the framework. Sometimes we think that social transformation has to have a global impact but the complex, multi-dimensional, systemic, dynamic ambiguity of unjust systems exists at every level of our world including local communities, neighborhoods and regions. Social Transformation can happen at any level of society, when we ignite souls, empower persons, change systems, organize commitment, enliven movements, transform worldviews, in service to life’s deepest Promises.

Q: What do you hope attendees take with them after participating “From Problem to Promise: Reframing Social Issues”?
R: We hope participants realize that despite all the complexity, the multiple dimensions, the system dynamics and the ambiguity – social transformation is possible. We have seen it in the end of apartheid in South Africa, the expansion of equity and inclusion of women, BIPOC and LGBTQ people in the US, the civil rights movement, and we see it emerging in the global consciousness of the need to address climate change. Our goal in this session is to present a framework or road map which will help read the landscape, tap into our values and guide transformational action.

_____________________________________________________

Event registration:

  • Preregistration required: LINK
  • Open to all
  • No cost
  • A Zoom link will be sent to all registered participants 48 hours prior to session date

More about Steve:
Rev. Dr. Steven Newcom is the founding director of the Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation at United Theological Seminary. This followed Newcom’s Archibald Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship which researched the intersection of theological education and social justice ministry nationally. The research identified a fundamental gap within Christian Seminary education around the applied competencies of social transformation and effective public engagement. The Center was launched in 2010 to address this gap with the mission of advancing social transformation as a practical theological discipline and core ministerial competency. In 2015 Newcom created a new MA and M. Div. Concentration in Social Transformation for United and served as founding Program Director. Prior to launch Kaleo Center, Steve served the Headwaters Foundation for Justice as the Executive Director for 18 years and previously worked for the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches.

_____________________________________________________

This is a MnMN-written article, with interview excerpts from Steve Newcom.

Other Posts You May Be Interested In

Multifaith Leadership Seminar

MnMN is pleased to update members, partners, and friends about this year’s Multifaith Leadership Seminar, an exciting joint initiative between Jay Phillips Center for Interreligious

Read More »