The Lutherans think they have an answer to Rodney King's plea: Can't we all just get along?
King is the Los Angeles motorist whose videotaped beating by police eventually led to deadly rioting. He was talking, of course, about race relations.
The Lutherans, through Lutheran Hour Ministries, are focusing more on domestic relations in marriage and family situations.
But Kimberly Abram, manager of communications for Lutheran Hour Ministries, stressed that the principles promoted via a Western New York media campaign "can apply to any relationship because any relationship has conflicts."
Using radio, television and newspaper ads that began running Monday, Lutheran Hour Ministries, which is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, is offering a free tape titled "Now You're Talking." Written by family counselor Ruth Koch, the tape and a booklet that goes with it teach couples, family members and others "practical ways to effectively manage conflict."
Stressing that conflict is natural in every relationship, Ms. Koch offers 18 relatively uncomplicated do's and don'ts for dealing with it.
For instance, she advises that problems won't go away if people refuse to talk about them but warns that physical, verbal or emotional abuse should not be part of the process.
When talking over a problem, she says, "don't bring up the past" or attempt to scare the other person or walk out during the discussion. She says to frame thoughts in terms of "I" -- "I think" or "I feel" -- because using the word "you" might sound accusatory to the other party.
"Some problems don't get solved," Ms. Koch points out. "You may have to agree to disagree about some things."
She also encourages people to "ask God to help you forgive.
"Forgiving does not mean that the other person's actions are acceptable; forgiving means that you are not going to bring it up again and that you are going to move forward with the relationship," she said.
Because the tape is offered through a program called "Living for Tomorrow," it is available by calling 1-800-LIVING-4.
Mrs. Abram said the tape comes with no strings attached.
"It is a way for Lutherans to say we care about you and if you need a church home, you can turn to us," she said.
However, the Rev. David Young, pastor of First Trinity Lutheran Church, Town of Tonawanda, said volunteers from Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations in Western New York will personally deliver a tape and booklet to anyone who calls "to put flesh and blood to the face of the church."
About 175 volunteers will be manning a telephone bank set up at First Trinity Lutheran and delivering tapes through April 5.
"We are doing this to reach out to people who are not inside the church," said Mr. Young. "We think it is the Lord's will, the Lord's work, because Jesus' message is not for a few but for many."
David VanDermay, Lutheran Hour Ministries media outreach manager, said the ministry is spending about $40,000 to bring the program to the Buffalo area for two weeks. An additional $30,000 is being spent in the Rochester area during the same period.
Since the program began five years ago, more than 83,000 people have asked for the tapes, he said. About 15,000 volunteers in 1,600 congregations have helped distribute them.
"A lot of people have said they used it with other family members -- sisters, brothers, parents -- and a few with co-workers, but the vast majority have been used by married couples," he said.
Besides the 2.6 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the "Living for Tomorrow" project is supported by the Lutheran Church-Canada, which has 85,000 members.