Appreciative Inquiry: Building on What You Do Best (11-24-13)

Build on the best. That’s the focus of “Appreciative Inquiry”—an organizational development process which Dumbarton launched six years ago. In the Nov. 24 Adult Ed Dumbarton’s Sandy Cheldelin was on hand to explain the results of the churchwide survey beginning Appreciative Inquiry. “It’s not a problem-solving process,” she said. “We look at what we do well and build on that.”
According to Cheldelin, there are four phases of Appreciative Inquiry: Appreciate, Envision, Design, and Sustain. The 13 questions in the survey covered such themes as spiritual inspiration and social action. Respondents answered questions on everything from whether they wanted more meditation in worship to whether they sought a “next big thing.”
When Cheldelin asked Adult Ed to give an example of how  Dumbarton had made a difference in their lives, one Dumbartonian shared her gratitude for the church’s early teachings on homosexuality. Another Dumbartonian talked about the transforming experience of being in the cast of Alice in Blunderland,” an anti-nuclear musical performed by church members in the 80s. Still another Adult Ed participant thanked Dumbarton for its willingness to adapt to change.
Asked Cheldelin: “When you consider the future, what will your story look like?” Here are some highlights of the responses:
--“Diversity, mutual caring, a shared commitment to truth, and an overall concern for justice in our wider society will still matter to us”;
--“We’ll act out or perform social justice in everything we do”;
--“We will teach children to ask good questions and to care about each other”;
--“We will see our weaknesses, for example our small size, as strengths”;
--“We will continue to provide strong leadership. Some of us may have to do more.”

--By Ginny Finch