Allan Rohlfs has coached clergy and groups for over 40 years in his work with the international Center for NonViolent Communication. Mr. Rohlfs has a home in Sierra Madre, CA. He is also a member and frequent teacher at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, on Chicago’s near North side.
On August 30 and 31, however, he will be at the Westerville Community United Church of Christ, near Columbus, meeting with Ohio Conference members and friends to explore skills for confronting difficult issues in peaceful ways.
In our preparations for this workshop Mr. Rohlfs writes: “(The workshop) is experiential, not didactic. My suggestion is that each person will work on their own situation, no invented role plays…. When I work on this topic… I ask each person to select something from their own life that they’d like to attend to and then I ask them as I present each step to apply that to their own situation…. Ask (those who attend) to intentionally note/record actual things people say to them that they wish to find a way to respond to.”
As an illustration, Mr. Rohlfs commented that he heard it said that “Fox News is the only source that tells the truth.” He adds, “That’s something, if I had been present, I’d want to respond to. And that’s the kind of thing I’d want attendees to have ready at hand for our workshop.”
The founder of the Center for NonViolent Communication (CNVC), Marshall Rosenberg, has written and taught much about these communication skills. About his book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life a reviewer writes: “Most of us are hungry for skills to improve the quality of our relationships, to deepen our sense of personal empowerment or to simply communicate more effectively. …. Discover how the language you use can strengthen your relationships, build trust, prevent conflicts and heal emotional pain. Revolutionary, yet simple, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life offers the most effective tools to reduce violence and create peace simply by changing how we communicate.”
Another commentator reflecting on the model taught by Rosenberg and Rohlfs says, “The ultimate aim is to develop societal relationships based on a restorative, “partnership” paradigm and mutual respect, rather than a retributive, fear-based, “domination” paradigm.”
Working on these skills is the adventure which awaits us August 30-31. Details of time and cost will come soon. For now, mark your calendar. We’ll share our own stories as we discover effective ways to address conflicting values and opinions in our ministries.