Name: Pastor David Hill
Hometown: Oberlin, Ohio
Sponsoring Organizations: The First Church in Oberlin United Church of Christ & United Citizen Power
Circle Start Date: November 16th, 2017
What attracted you to the Circles?
I was attracted by the opportunity to talk across difference in a structured way, which was really important to me. I connected with United Citizen Power, the grassroots organization working in my community, through their local organizer Achilles Morales. I learned how connected they were to different groups in our community. I thought it was great and I trusted that this would be a great kind of dialogue to help me to step out of my comfort zone. I also thought that the dialogue approach to bring people from the community together, using the Ben Franklin Circle model, was really interesting because it helps to level the playing field.
How did you recruit members for your Circle? Any lessons learned?
I shared the details of the event on my church’s weekly bulletin and made announcements at meetings. Through this process, I also learned that to get the desired mix of folks in the room, it takes sitting down to think and be intentional with invites. United Citizen Power also helped with recruitment, bringing in different segments of the community and community partners such as Libni Lopez and Elliot Director from the Oberlin Multicultural Resource Center.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
The Ben Franklin Circle has invited me to take on a deeper examination of my privilege and identity and has helped me to be more thoughtful when I am meeting my neighbors and sharing my thoughts with them for the first time. Being a part of the Ben Franklin Circle has put me in a position that I am not used to being in, and it has been a reminder of what it’s like to be outside your comfort zone — that’s a good thing. A lot of weight and power comes with the title I hold as pastor of Oberlin’s oldest church. The Circles have helped me to remember that it is not always about your title.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
Temperance has meant the most so far. It has been interesting to hear how Ben Franklin defined these virtues and to then think about how we see them in our present society. Temperance meant the most to me because it made me think of the importance of passion, but even our passions should have some kind of limit. I know that I can really fly off the handle sometimes, so this was a good reminder for me that even some of the most beautiful things have a limit. I think it was also a reminder that as people who care about our communities, trying to take on every project can sometimes mean the outcomes aren’t as impactful as we want them to be — or we only get to scratch the surface. It helped me realize that we can’t take on everything all at once.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
I have been excited about working on more creative ways to have worship services, with music playing a large part in it. Using music is something that I don’t get to do too often but it is one of my great talents. The commitment I made was to have more of my musical talents in our worship services and I am working to make more time to do that.