Bridge the Great Divide


BACKGROUND...THE DIVIDE--The Sunday after the inauguration I huddled with my friends, feeling afraid of what was changing around us.  Fear and distrust were the main feelings we shared.  All of a sudden there was a huge divide--in my town, in my church, my family, even.  We got separated into opposing positions, and it was hard to even spend time outside of our safe communities.   

WANTING A BRIDGE--After a year I lost some of the fear of what was happening to my world, and wished to get past this great divide.  Others shared this wish with me. People told me they mourned the distance between the Far Right and Far Left, but didn't have a way to bridge it.

THE BRIDGE--A few months in the Appalachian mountains of NW Maryland—serving a church mainly made up of people with other political views—taught me that there is a way to get beyond the distrust.  As I heard their stories, and as I observed their great commitment  to each other, to their community, to their history, I grew to admire them. I grew to have hope that the divide doesn’t have to remain so large, and that honest conversations can happen.

When the opportunity came to go to The General Theological Seminary and design a program to help bridge this great political divide, I realized that these people of St. George’s in Mount Savage, MD, are going to be the ones who teach me how to have this talk.  My mountain church has agreed to have me back twice a month, so that they can keep teaching me how to talk and hear and share across the divide.

GOAL OF PROGRAM-- I will leave the seminary year with a program for church congregations with a diversity of perspectives and experiences to use to talk with each other, to talk with other groups, to bridge the divide through stories and through discovering respect.

BENEFICIARIES--The people in churches who can't talk with "those others" but who wish they could--are the beneficiaries of this project.  The people who have asked for it are church leaders, people in the pews, and people who never plan on entering a church.

WHY ME—Isaac Newton (who I am not comparing myself to) said that if he could see farther it was only because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.  I am standing on the shoulders of several people—one is the internationally known professor and researcher in promoting public health and in violence prevention, Alfred McAlister, who has taken an interest in the project and has promised to be available with ideas and feedback as I pursue this goal.  Others are the professors at the seminary, who  work with reconciliation theology, which will guide my approach. This is why I have confidence that the finished project will provide a way for people to bridge the great political divide. 

GOFUNDME GOAL--The goal is $6,000, which breaks down this way.  I still owe the seminary $4,000, and will need $2,000 for textbooks, materials and transportation.

TIMING-- I will need one half of this money quickly, to register for the first term, the second half for the spring term.  The grant only just came through, and I am now moving in speed mode to make the goal work.

I am so grateful for your support.  The financial help will make the year possible.  The    symbolic support means even more. 

WHAT I WISH TO GIVE YOU—If you wish, I would like to provide copies of the program, for your use.

Thank you!
  • Mary Beth Alberts 
    • $200 
    • 50 mos
  • Ian Douglas 
    • $500 
    • 50 mos
  • Jane Theuner 
    • $50 
    • 50 mos
  • Karen Crosby  
    • $100 
    • 50 mos
  • Elizabeth May 
    • $25 
    • 50 mos
See all


Rosalie Richards 
Mount Savage, MD

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