Emilie Townes: Community

In this Encounter, Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes, Dean of Vanderbilt Divinity, speaks to the meaning of community.

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Emilie Townes: Community?

Reflecting on Community

The following reflective questions are based on Dean Emilie Townes' video, "Community." You can discuss them in a group or reflect on them individually.

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Take what you learned from Emilie Townes' "Community" and spend more time reflecting on the ideas she presents. Use these questions for your own reflection or bring them to a group conversation. Learn, Reflect, Grow.


  • How do you view community?
  • Dr. Emilie Townes says that living in community means that we might have to give up personal preference for the good of the whole. How can we, in our diverse communities, live in to this call?
  • Dean Townes mentions that within community, there must be a give and take. How do we ask for the things that we need from our community? Are we fully giving of ourselves within our communities?
  • How does listening and hearing the needs of others create space for compromise?
  • Townes speaks to the complexity of this process. In what ways can we recognize and embrace differences without letting anger influence us?
  • What does it look like to genuinely engage with people who disagree with us?

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Emilie Townes: Community?

Take Action

Conflict Resolution

This Action provides ideas for conflict resolution -a common issue within communities.

Living in community does not free us from conflict. No matter what community we are a part of, there will be some kind of conflict. But finding ways to address this conflict is paramount to the health of a community. Use these tips below for conflict resolution within your communities. 

  1. Respect is a priority. When engaging in conversations that involve controversial topics, make sure to use diplomatic and thoughtful language.
  2. Separate people and problems. Keep in mind that often, people have valid reasons for having different opinions. If you work on separating people from problems, it is easier to work out issues without damaging relationships.
  3. Acknowledge different interests. Sometimes it helps to try to understand the "why" behind why someone offers a certain opinion when talking about difficult topics.
  4. Listen, then talk. It's important to make sure that every person within a group discussion feels heard and knows that their opinions are valued.
  5. Be open to compromise. To be successful in situations involving conflict, it is imperative to remember that our ideas are not always the best and that there are always many different possible solutions. 

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Emilie Townes: Community?

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