Wordship Student Roundtable Prepares Students to Have Hard Conversations with Love

1/28/2021

Andrew Mercantini opened the Wordship panel with a personal story.Andrew Mercantini was shaken when he took his brother to lunch over the holidays and realized he had no idea what to say to the distraught person sitting across from him.

Mercantini’s brother was torn apart because of the election results, and Mercantini — normally quick to fix any problem — was left speechless, wondering how to relate to a person he grew up with.

“I was horrified at myself,” Mercantini said. “How do we see each other as people and not just ideas to be counted?”

That was among the thorny questions Wordship Director Dr. Stephanie Bennett and four student panelists wrestled with during the “Worth of the Word” student roundtable Wednesday in the Lassiter Rotunda of the Warren Library. The panelists were: Mercantini, a senior studying philosophy, politics and economics; Jana Espy, a senior studying communication and ministry; Madison Hedegard, a senior studying communication and philosophy; and Jonathan Carleton, a junior studying communication.

Jonathan Carleton, a junior studying communication, speaks about how the Word of God offers an opportunity for a dialogue.Led by Bennett, Wordship is the cultivated practice of using our words wisely to edify others, including those with whom we disagree. It includes spoken and written words.

The Word of God offers us a unique opportunity to approach one another as equals, Carleton said.

“It’s recognizing that at the core, before God, you have equal standing,” Carleton said. “That really enables us to love people and embrace them.”

Hedegard, joining by video, elaborated on a similar concept.

Madison Hedegard, a senior studying communication and philosophy, explains that love is crucial to Wordship.“If you look at the heart of division, it is the belief that we know better,” Hedegard said.

The root of the problem across the political spectrum is a lack of love, she said, quoting 1 Corinthians 13. Civility is merely a Band-Aid. It is possible to be civil to someone and still not love them, she said.

Espy shared that she’s able to love difficult people by seeing them the way that God sees them.

Jana Espy, a senior studying communication and ministry, speaks about seeing others as God sees them.“As much as that person ticks me off or makes me livid, that person is someone God sent Christ to die for,” Espy said.

Mercantini tied Wordship to Workship, PBA’s signature community service program. Both are more than occasional events and meetings; they develop students’ character.

“We are more than just someone who is talking. We become witnesses,” Mercantini said. “It seeps into the essence of who we are and radiates off of us.”

Upcoming Wordship events

Wordship Walks:

8:30 a.m. Feb. 10, March 10 and April 7. Meet at the fountain on Flagler Drive and walk to Clematis Street and back.

Wordship and Council for Intercultural Engagement Book Study:

11 a.m. Feb. 10 Chapel — Dr. Stephanie Bennett and Dr. Terriel Byrd will launch a discussion on "Jesus and the Disinherited" by Howard Thurman, available in the PBA bookstore. Continue joining the book study 11 a.m. on Feb. 24, March 3, March 10, March 17 in the Lassiter Rotunda of the Warren Library.

Stay up-to-date with Wordship events here.

Photo 1: Andrew Mercantini opened the Wordship panel with a personal story. He is a senior studying philosophy, politics and economics.

Photo 2: Jonathan Carleton, a junior studying communication, speaks about how the Word of God offers an opportunity for a dialogue.

Photo 3: Madison Hedegard, a senior studying communication and philosophy, explains that love is crucial to Wordship.

Photo 4: Jana Espy, a senior studying communication and ministry, speaks about seeing others as God sees them.