From the Pen of Rev Steve

Recent copies of the minister's letters from Rev Steve. These are reproduced from the monthly Newsletter.

June 2023: Transforming Conversations

A small group of volunteers are currently acting as guinea pigs for a District initiative called Transforming Conversations. The pilot will help to provide research material for a Cliff College MA project. On the Transforming Conversations website it declares that it is “a transformative process of intentional, facilitated conversation providing skills and experiences that produce positive effects.” Now it will be interesting to find out whether the guinea pigs agree with that statement or not, but from my own experience of this District initiative it should be a worthwhile and fruitful experience.

You might think that conversation is a normal and natural daily occurrence, and therefore why do we need training in such a basic thing? Yet relevant engaged conversation is far from easy. You only need to look at the basic ground rules of the organisation to see the pitfalls that we can all fall into around this most “simple” of acts:
  • Listen carefully to others in the group and be curious;
  • Respect everyone’s right to an opinion, even if yours is very different;
  • Talk from your own feelings and experience;
  • Choose not to make judgements about others;
  • Don’t talk for too long;
  • Be prepared to modify your opinion;
  • Share only for yourself;
  • Be civil to others and respect the confidentiality of the group;
  • If you don’t know- say you don’t know;
  • Use language that everyone understands and be prepared to explain your thinking underlying something you have said.
I can remember a friend in another circuit saying that their Superintendent had a habit of placing a toy horse on the table if he felt that one of his colleagues was getting on their hobby horse! Perhaps not the most conducive action to create trust, but you can perhaps see his point. In our own circuit we have enlisted the skills of an organisation called “Place of Hope” that works to bring reconciliation when communication isn’t working correctly, and their skill is proving a valuable resource to us at this time.

It is my opinion that rather than being easy, conversation is a difficult skill to develop and in all likelihood will take a lifetime or beyond to perfect. Yet strive for that perfection we must, because through meaningful conversation we grow and develop. We only need to look at the bible, where Jesus was able to penetrate the superficial and give value and hope to people.

When the trial sessions have been completed we will consider whether we explore other opportunities to converse in a facilitated way, but in the interim let us carry on the conversation in a way that is transformational for us and for those that we converse with day by day.

Every Blessing.

From the Pen of Rev Steve
You might think that conversation is a normal and natural daily occurrence