As the leader of a church in Salisbury, CT, that is 98 percent white, the Rev. Dr. Diane Monti-Catania felt the need to shake things up a bit.
She was looking for a community with more diversity, and she found that in the Doctor of Ministry program at Hartford Seminary. The diversity here also inspired her to bring awareness of multicultural, multireligious understanding to Salisbury through her D.Min. project.
The project was titled Peace through Understanding: Using the Arts to Sow Seeds of Compassion in Salisbury, CT. The process started with congregants debating a welcome statement, which went beyond the usual “open and affirming” to the idea of “affirming everyone.”
Then the Rev. Dr. Monti-Catania brought in poets, musicians and artists, as well as speakers — many of whom came from Hartford Seminary. The project evolved, as most of them do, and took on a life of its own.
“The joy that I had in researching these projects was extraordinary,” she said.
She advised new students entering the D.Min. program to talk and learn from each other. “Your project will evolve,” she said. “Trust in the spirit.”