Broadcaster Newsletter

From the Pastor’s Desk  Listening with Our Ears, Not Our Mouths

I’ve been wanting to share this column by Rev. Anthony Robinson, a UCC minister and author of many books on church life and leadership, since it appeared in The Christian Century, May 10, 2017.  I found it relevant for consideration in our church life together, and for myself—even more so in these days when I think there’s something in the air about “not feeling heard” or feeling somehow powerless that may make us a bit more anxious to talk than to listen.  Rule of thumb: God made us with two ears and one mouth.  Think about it.

“This is going to be hard for me,” said Mary, an energetic member of the congregation who had asked me to assist in a project described as “taking the pulse of our church” and “planning for the next chapter of our life.” Though I had known Mary for less than an hour, I was inclined to agree. She was clearly an extrovert and a bright person who thrived on a rapid-fire exchange of thoughts and ideas.  What Mary figured would be tough was following the “no cross talk” guideline I had proposed as the modus operandi.

“No cross talk” is a standard practice in 12-step or recovery groups. It works like this: when a person in the group talks about his or her recovery, or the temptations faced or the hope and healing found, others in the group do not address the person directly or comment on what’s been said. Only the person who has the floor speaks (within an agreed-upon time limit). Others listen.

“Dave,” for example, introduces himself and launches into whatever it is he needs to say about the topic of the meeting. He doesn’t talk about a previous speaker’s comments. He speaks only for himself. When he finishes, Dave may thank the others, and they may respond with “Thanks, Dave.” That’s it. Another speaker begins, or there may be silence until someone else is ready to speak.

“No cross talk” means that people don’t make comments that may cause the person speaking to feel unsafe or inadequate. Comments like “I don’t think you really understand,” or “When you’ve been around longer, you’ll get it,” or the one often heard in church conversations, “We’ve tried that before.”

The no cross talk rule means not only that no one judges or corrects a speaker but that no one jumps in to take care of the speaker. The person who speaks may become tongue-tied with frustration or shame. They may break down and weep as they speak of past or present failures. Someone may pass the Kleenex, but no one rushes in to say “Oh, I’m so sorry” or “Really, it’s not that bad” or gives the distressed person a hug. Such signs of support may be offered when the meeting is over.

When people refrain from advice or ever so slightly judgmental comments, they create a safety zone. And when they hold back from taking care of a person in distress, they’re encouraging accountability. Every person has come to work, to speak her or his own truth.

If there is no advice given, no fixing or judging, and no caretaking, what is it that the group does offer?  Listening.  Deep listening. Someone is heard—without comment, without rebuttal, without affirmation or applause. It turns out that this is a gift. As David Augsburger puts it, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”

At Mary’s congregation, I gave the 15 or so small groups two questions to work with, with the no cross talk rule in effect. The questions were “Where do you sense God’s presence in the life of our church today?” and “Where do you think God is calling us to go in the future?” The groups were to take the questions one at a time and give each person the opportunity to speak for up to three minutes while the others listened. One member of the group was to take notes on the comments, but without recording who was speaking. If someone felt a need to respond verbally to a speaker, I suggested he or she say “Thank you” (and no more) when the person was finished.

It’s a gift to be heard without comment, rebuttal, or applause.

When we took a break Mary rushed over to me. “That was amazing,” she said. “In our group some people spoke who never say anything. Great comments, too. Wow, what insight! And, honestly, it was such a relief to not have to say anything, to just listen. I think we heard one another in a new way—at least I know I did.”

Using “no cross talk” in the church makes the table around which we gather safe and inclusive. We dismantle established hierarchies and pecking orders. Those who seldom speak tend to feel safe, while those who tend to speak often get exactly the same opportunity and attention as everyone else. The element of who will win or prevail is eliminated. Moreover, everyone gets to listen, to ponder the words they have heard, and to listen for what the Holy Spirit might be saying to the church through another’s words. The practice is particularly valuable in the early stages of planning or discernment. In later stages, participants must make choices and set priorities. But getting everyone engaged at the beginning makes a difference in the rest of the process.

The use of “no cross talk” can serve well in other settings too. In Bible studies, a leader might adapt a lectio divina approach to scripture by saying, “Let’s try this with no cross talk. We will read the passage aloud once, then take a moment in silence for everyone to read it again to themselves. After that we will go around the circle. I invite each person to share a word or phrase from today’s passage that has jumped out at you. No comments, just the words from the passage that grab you or intrigue you.

“Then we’ll read the passage aloud one more time and go around the circle again. This time I invite you to respond to this question: What do you hear God saying to you in today’s reading? Remember, no cross talk! Don’t address the speaker or comment on what they say. I’ll let you know when your three minutes are up. Your job is to speak for yourself and then, when someone else is speaking, to listen carefully.”

The process doesn’t preclude providing some useful background information about a biblical passage, either in written form before the session or as an introduction to the session. But the background information should be brief. The idea here is to move from “this is the meaning of this passage” to “How do you hear God speaking to you through this reading?”

There is a theological conviction behind this no cross talk practice. We’re listening not only to what others are saying but also to what God is saying to us and what God is saying to the church. In a standard discussion, with its rapid-fire and often judgmental responses, our egos can become so engaged that we can’t hear what God may be saying. In the thoughts shared without cross talk, in the silences between speakers or while listeners wait, and in the attentive and nonjudgmental listening of others, God has a chance to get at us, to get a word in our conversation. We may receive the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

At the end of the day Mary said, “It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, that no cross talk thing. I enjoyed just listening. But there was something else to it, more than just hearing each other in a new way. Somehow, when we didn’t need to worry so much about the outcome or try to control things, it was like we were letting God be part of it; like we were letting or asking God to, well, be God.”

            See you in church!  Pastor Doug

 COMING! Second Sunday Summer Shenanigans

On three second Sundays this summer, children and their friends ages 3 through high school are gathering at 9:00 at the church to have an adventure and learn something new.  On these particular Sundays the children will not be attending the church service but instead, will be busy elsewhere. It’s very important that children arrive on time since we may be traveling and must leave on schedule.

July 9   Hook, Line and Sinker  We’ll travel to Devil’s Lake to go fishing. To assure that we have enough fishing poles, bait and snacks please sign your child up at church or call Claudia or Joe Bavlnka at 608-477-3309.  Everyone is invited to join us for a cookout after church.  People can carpool to the lake.

August 13Helping Furry Friends  We will travel to the Sauk County Humane Society to volunteer there.  Watch for more information in the next Broadcaster.


BECOMING AND BEING A ‘Just Peace’ CHURCH The Missions and Social Concerns board continues the study of what the United Church of Christ encourages us to be as a peacemaking church Our next gathering is Tuesday, July 18,2017 from 6-8 pm in church basement. We will review chapters 4, 5 and 6 of the book by Susan Thistlethwait entitled “A Just Peace Church” and study chapters 7 and 8. These two chapters talk about structuring the church for a Just Peace and the proposal for action in organizing the church as a Just Peace Church. We have had a great time and look forward to more.

SAUK COUNTY PEACE INITIATIVE SHARES ... Peace and Hope Tank The Sauk County Peace Initiative is hosting a Peace and Hope Tank on Saturday July 8 at Park Hall in

Sauk City from 9 to 11am beginning with a potluck breakfast. A meditation and discussion on working together to build peace in our community and our world will follow.

The SePI was founded in July 2016 after the prayer vigil held at the First United Methodist Church for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando Florida. Another vigil in December commemorated the Sandy Hook School shootings. In January 2017 we celebrated and honored Martin Luther King day at First United Church of Christ with community members.

Through breaking bread together, sharing our hopes and dreams and through song and meditation, we corne together to participate in our mission of peacemaking.

Orie Eilertson


From Our Parish Nurse                     By: Gewri Schoenoff

I don’t know if it is happening in your home or with close friends, but our world news has become like another member of the family into our lives.  Trying to understand any part of this new intrusion in our lives has not been easy and probably will never be fully understood.

Intruding into our family life is one thing, but what it is doing to us, to our families, to us personally, and to close friendships has become heartbreaking for many.

I strongly believe in communication.  Communicating our fears, our heartaches, our doubts and our joys to those nearest to us is a path to keep us emotionally and physically healthy.

Like many other families, we to, have experienced divisions of understanding during this past, almost 10 months of political news. A recent comment by one member stated, “we’re not all the same. In fact, we are polar opposites.”  In thinking about this comment, it is amazing that we are still one strong family and our love for each other has prevailed.  The “elephant in the room” is being tamed ad with some strong inner faith that this too shall pass, our lives will heal and be stronger.  Shalom, Geri


Fellowship News:

Don’t forget the South Shore Devil’s Lake outing on July 9th at noon at the White Oak Shelter.  Bring a dish to pass – meat furnished.  If ride needed, sign up in Fellowship room



After worship on July 9 we’ll join the Second Sunday Summer Shenanigans gang for a potluck picnic at the White Oak Shelter, South Shore, at Devil’s Lake State Park.  Fellowship Committee will provide the meats.  Bring beverages, a place setting, and potluck dishes, sides, desserts, etc.  We will organize rides for those without a park sticker with those who have a park sticker.  The shelter has some outlets, picnic tables and restrooms.  As you enter the South Shore parking lot, White Oak is the shelter to the farthest to the left closest to the lake.


Missed the Organ Concert?  Like to See it Again?

Here’s the link to use to get to Greg Hollenback’s YouTube channel: . The concert is in four segments, all accessible once you get to the link.  Thank you, Greg!


Calendar of Events

Sun, July 2

Worship with Communion, 9:30 AM—HYMN SING

Tues, July 4NO Trustees meeting in July

Thurs. July 6  Outreach, 8:15 AM

Sat, July 8 Memorial celebration for Gretchen D’s bro-in-law Kenton

Sun, July 9 Worship, 9:30 AM

Second Sunday Summer Shenanigans, 9 AM at church, to Devil’s Lake

After Worship—Picnic, Devil’s Lake south shore, White                                                           Oak shelter

Tues, July 11 NO Stewardship or Cabinet meeting in                                                               July

Sun, July 16 Worship, 9:30 AM

Mon, July 17 Parkinson’s Support, 2 PM

Tues, July 18 Mission & Social Concerns, 6-8 PM                                Focus: Being a Just Peace Church

Christian Ed. Bd, 6:30 PM (?)

Thurs, July 20 NO Diaconate in July

Sat, July 22

Circus Parade—courtesy beverage and balloon station

Sun, July 23 Worship, 9:30 AM

Wed, July 26 August Broadcaster newsletter items due

Sun, July 30 Worship, 9:30 AM


Turn Trash into Treasure

Old or spent printer cartridges can pile up quickly, especially if you own more than one printer or you work in a business that uses lots of cartridges.  With over 350 million ink and toner cartridges ending up in our landfills each year, proper cartridge recycling is more important than ever.  How would you like to recycle your printer cartridges while earning a little cash for our church?  We need at least 20 cartridges to get started.  Just place your used cartridges in the recycling bin in the narthex and we’ll send them on their way.  We’d like to be able to send our first batch by the end of June.


Summer Food Service Program

Baraboo School District is again taking part in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program this year, serving breakfast and lunch in three sites, and delivering meals to the Boys and Girls Club.  The meals are free to all children 18 and younger.  Any adults accompanying the children eat free as well.  A local church is covering this cost.  Individuals do not have to attend Summer School to take part in this program, which runs to July 21 (except the ABE site, which ends on July 12), Monday thru Friday.  All sites will be closed on July 3, 4 and 5 for the holiday. Sites and hours are posted in the Narthex.


GREETER                                                      LITURGISTS                         USHERS

  1. Vi Tully                                                     Orie Eilertson                Sandy Perry & Kit Eilertson
  2. Luke Moll Bryant Hazard               Greg & Joanna Hollenback
  3. Kristin Ellis   Joanna Hagan                Joanna Hagan &
  4. Bonnie Manning & Granddaughters Claudia Bavlnka           Joe & Claudia Bavlnka

30. Barb Alexander                                           Cliff Bobholz                Luke Moll & Kristin EllisVol. XXVI No 4                                                     April 2017