Better Conversation: Talk with each other, not past each other

Rev. Kirsten Nelson Roenfeldt
Special to The Citizen Chronicle

Are you frustrated by a societal conversation that is going nowhere?  Do you want a space to talk openly, honestly and respectfully about issues that matter deeply to us all?

Bethlehem Lutheran Church invites you to a Better Conversation.

“We want to talk about the challenges in our world today, cross our differences and mark them as holy, bless each other with the gift of presence and generous listening. We began with the idea of citizenship in America.  Our second conversation was on White Privilege.  This third conversation is about the big question arising after the shooting in Florida.  ‘How do we get to a place we can talk with each other, not past each other, on tough issues like guns and violence?’”  – The Rev. Kirsten Nelson Roenfeldt

An Invitation from Krista Tippett, the host and journalist of On Being, a radio show and podcast from NPR and the creator of the Civil Conversations project:

“Our young century is awash with questions of meaning, of how we structure our common life, and who we are to each other. It seems we are more divided than ever before – unable to speak across the differences we must engage to create the world we want for ourselves and our children.

Yet you and I have it in us to be nourishers of discernment, fermenters of healing. We have the language, the tools, the virtues – and the calling, as human beings – to create hospitable spaces for taking up the hard questions of our time.

This calling is too important and life-giving to wait for politics or media at their worst to come around. We can discover how to calm fear and plant the seeds of the robust civil society we desire and that our age demands.

This is civic work and it is human, spiritual work – in the most expansive 21st century sense of that language. We can learn for our time what moral imagination, social healing, and civil discourse can look like and how they work.

[…]Public life is bigger than political life. We have narrowly equated the two in recent years, and we’ve impoverished ourselves in the process. Public life includes all of our disciplines and endeavors, including ourselves as citizens and professional people and neighbors and parents and friends. The places we’ve looked for leadership and modeling have become some of the most broken in our midst. And so it is up to us, where we live, to start having the conversations we want to be hearing and creating the realities we want to inhabit.”

Our Feb. 25 conversation will be framed by Krista Tippet’s interview of Brené Brown, titled “Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart” from Feb. 8.

“When we’re our best selves with each other, I don’t think that’s what’s possible between people; I believe that’s what’s true between people.” A wise thinker and writer, and a sought out teacher by leaders in many fields, Brené Brown is turning her attention ever more to how we walked into the crisis of our life together and how we can move beyond it. Our belonging to one another across every social divide, she says, can never be lost. But it can be forgotten.

Please take the time to listen to this podcast, or read the transcript, before we gather. We will meet in the basement classrooms: 5 & 6. You are welcome to invite anyone you think would be interested.

Better Conversation

Sunday, Feb 25.

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Basement Classrooms

345 Main Street, Sturbridge

All are invited. All are welcome. We hope you have no trouble finding us off of 131 and 20 – Bethlehem Lutheran Church is shining through the trees.

If you have any questions about these offerings or the church, please contact Pastor Kirsten Nelson Roenfeldt at 774-318-9306 or


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