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VICA Winter Series 2024

The Venice Interfaith Community Association Presents:

Turning Passionate Polarization into Compassionate Community

Mondays, Jan. 22 and 29, Feb. 5, 2024, 7:00 PM
Venice United Church of Christ, Naar Hall
620 Shamrock Blvd, Venice, FL


Join us as we discuss the increased polarization and disharmony in our country and worldwide.


For the first two programs, invited scholars will look at how the foundations were laid for this polarization and discuss ideas on how to accommodate other viewpoints. No reservations are needed for these two free programs.

The third program will be a viewing of The Patterson Foundation’s production of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect, a theatrical experience which inspires meaningful conversation. Tickets for this program are free, thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, and available via Eventbrite.

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Each evening will include time for discussion with others in the community and—we hope—will inspire more moves toward Compassionate Community.

Details about each program can be found here.

January 22: Looking at the Sources

Presenter: Rev. Donna Batchelor

Do the writings in our sacred texts split us on purpose? Do they separate us intentionally from each other? How do we hear each other’s prayers and sermons? Is division encouraged and directed by divine authority?

Looking at the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Koran, Rev. Donna Batchelor will discuss the many literary rhetorical devices and storytelling strategies used so brilliantly by the writers of these sacred scriptures and look at how many of these are still being used successfully today in our modern journalistic milieu.


Admission is free. No reservations are required.


Rev. Donna Batchelor has been a member of the Venice Interfaith Board of Directors for five years. She has a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Nokomis.

January 29: Memories: Why We Stay This Way

Presenter: Janice Shull

How do memories construct our past? How does the collective memory of a group or society or nation shape and inform its history? Whose memories become the memory on which history is written? Is it possible to transform a group’s collective memory from “us versus them” to multiple viewpoints in order to repair the past? What does it take to say “I remember an event this way, but you remember it differently—let’s talk”?

Janice Shull will take us on a journey of how memory, both collective and individual, affect the social fabric and how it can be used to polarize or unite a society. Admission is free. No reservations are required.

Janice Shull enjoyed a long career as a librarian, primarily at the Law Library of Louisiana, followed by a second career in retirement as pastor of the Venice Community Church of the Brethren. She now lives in a retirement community in Fort Wayne, Indiana where she devotes much of her time to writing a book and reading works of history. The intriguing concept of memory draws a through-line in her research and writing, particularly in relation to trauma and disaster.

February 5: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect

Produced by the Patterson Foundation

How can we find our way to understanding? Where can we find common ground? Who has left us a blueprint for creating the trust that transcends differing opinions and ideologies? We may find some answers by looking back more than 150 years to the words spoken and written by Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in this powerful staged reading by playwright Beth Duda with original poetry by Cedric Hameed.

This production, recorded at the renowned Kennedy Center, will be followed by a thought-provoking live panel discussion. Tickets are free, thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, and must be reserved via Eventbrite.

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