Transforming a Church, with Thoughtful and Persistent Contact

We—Sara and Keith—are members of a local United Church of Christ. We have enjoyed getting closer to people who share our pro-human values, and over the past three years we have brought the powerful tools of RC to the church.

Three years ago, we taught our pastor RC in a fundamentals class. She loved it, and we continue to have Co-Counseling sessions with her.

This past spring, Keith led a four-meeting Lenten1 series called A Sacred Conversation on Race. It was based on RC theory—that we are good, intelligent human beings who have been hurt by racism. People met in small groups and told their stories of how racism had affected their lives. Those listening were encouraged to do so with delight. People loved it. About forty-five people attended each of the four meetings—many more than in previous years.

Because the Lenten series was so successful, people wanted to use the listening format in a six-meeting summer series on inclusivity and equality. To prepare others to help lead it, Keith taught a three-week mini-RC fundamentals course. Eight people took part.2

The summer series, which just ended, was led each week by those who had taken the mini-course. In the first meeting, our pastor and the president of the church reminded the participants of the basic assumption that people are good, caring, and intelligent. Our pastor spoke about how the RC class had transformed her life, and she gave a clear and accurate presentation of RC theory, emphasizing the value of discharge. It was exciting to hear the two key leaders of our church give this eloquent presentation of RC.

During the summer series, we refined our use of the discharge process. People met in smaller groups of three, so that each person got ten to twelve minutes to talk. People of all ages loved having a way to share their lives and get closer to people, some of whom they had known for years. Our minister noticed that people were spending more time than usual talking with each other after church on Sundays, and she thought it was a direct result of their having used RC.

Keith is starting a fundamentals class in September, and several people from the church have expressed an interest in participating.

We talked with our minister about continuing to use the RC model in monthly gatherings after the church service. We are going to have the first of these meetings on death and dying, an issue that many people are concerned about. We plan to introduce support groups so that people can experience the safety of constituency-based groups. We may also do some demonstrations of counseling.

Here is what we have learned:

• Persistence pays off.3

• People loved RC theory about human beings, and loved listening with delight.

• The more people experienced RC theory and practice, the more they were interested in it.

• People were attracted to us because we live “big” lives and interact lovingly with others. We were examples of RC’s benefits.

• Working together as a team helped spread our influence more quickly.

• It worked well to introduce RC to an already-organized community of people in which we were loved and respected. It accelerated the process of introducing people to RC and building the Community.

We would love to hear how others have shared RC in institutions, such as schools and churches.

Keith Osajima and Sara Schoonmaker
Redlands, California, USA

1 Lenten refers to Lent, a period of penitence and fasting during the forty days before Easter, observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestant Churches.
2 Took part means participated.
3 Pays off means has good results.

Last modified: 2014-10-06 18:40:49+00