Documentary film series to be hosted by First Presbyterian Church aims to foster healthy conversation and understanding

First film scheduled for this Sunday

First Presbyterian Church of Waukon will be hosting a documentary film series to raise awareness and foster healthy conversation about several contemporary issues facing both the local community and this country. The film series will be held one Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. during each of the next three months, beginning this Sunday, January 20, and the public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Each of the films focuses on telling the stories of how various cultural and political challenges actually affect real people. The intent of the film series and community conversations is not to take sides on the issues or to promote one viewpoint over another. Rather, the intent is to use the power of storytelling to create understanding and empathy.

“One of the great challenges we face as a society these days is seeing the true humanity - the image of God - in the people of this world,” said Rev. Grant M. VanderVelden, pastor of First Presbyterian. “Far too often, we’re quite happy talking in generalities and painting with broad strokes that conveniently let individual humanity fall away. We lump problems and people together into precise-but-unhelpful categories: the homeless, the entitlement class, the welfare queens, the mentally ill, the unemployed, the immigrants, the Republicans, the Democrats, and the various shades of purple in between. And, sadly, there’s scarcely a human face to be seen anywhere in those groups.”

The approximately one-hour documentaries will be shown on the large screen in the church’s Sanctuary, and afterward, people will move into the Fellowship Hall for roundtable discussion and sharing. Refreshments will be served, and an information table with community resources will be set up.

The public is invited to each of the free events, which will begin at 1 p.m. three upcoming Sundays, according to the following schedule:

• Sunday, January 20: “Poor Kids,” a PBS Frontline documentary that explores what poverty means to children in the United States, shares the stories of three families living in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.
• Sunday, February 17: “Dakota 38” follows a group of Native Americans on a 330-mile journey across South Dakota and Minnesota in an effort to bring healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and hope to their community.
• Sunday, March 24: “Trigger - The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence,” a documentary produced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, frames gun violence as a public-health issue. It examines how one shooting impacts individuals, families and communities and gives voice to the questions and insights that arise.

First Presbyterian Church is located at 204 West Main Street in Waukon. For more information, go to the church’s online presence at or call 563-568-2981.

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