What is Mediation?
- A voluntary process
- Facilitating discussions
- Between parties who ask for assistance
- To settle their differences.
Mediation is a process –- a set of steps that assist people to communicate their concerns and interests more effectively and more accurately. It provides a forum both to listen and to speak with the intent of resolving conflicts. It is a voluntary process that is initiated, continued and concluded by the participants. The product of mediation is a written agreement that is mutually acceptable to all parties.
Help parties discuss their concerns by:
- Clarifying intentions and language
- Identifying specific issues needing resolution
- Creating mutually acceptable agreements
The Mediation Ministry Team is able to offer:
- Individual and group mediation
- Consultations on particular conflict issues with classes and consistories
- Seminars on improving communications and decision-making processes
- Contract service to other synods when requested and feasible
Members of the team can meet with classis and church leaders to determine the need and benefits of mediation in specific situations. Team members serve as enablers who help conflicted parties listen and speak to one another using better communication. Sources of conflict are addressed in ways that improve relationships. The skills that are learned can help groups more effectively deal with future potential conflicts.
The Mediation Ministry Team may be contacted through the Synod Office, 914-332-1311.
The Rev. William Doster
RSNY- Mediation Ministry Coordinator
Common Areas of Conflict
Do any of these situations sound familiar?
The new pastor held so much promise. And the congregation looked like a great place to continue ones pastoral ministry.
Why isn’t it working out?
What can we do to make it work?
New leadership is being developed in the church. They bring new ideas and new ways of doing things. Some long-time church members are feeling threatened by the change. How can healthy change be facilitated?
Two congregations share a church building. Property use is viewed differently by the two communities and conflict arises almost weekly. How can they move toward a more positive understanding?
Significant decisions are made by the consistory, yet when it comes to implementation, “road blocks” appear and little seems to be accomplished. What’s going on?
Two consistory members have had a falling out over a property matter. Each is trying to recruit allies among the rest of the Consistory. It’s getting personal. How can the conflict be contained?
Conflict in the Church
Many of us find it difficult to directly address conflict in a healthy manner. We may not be practiced in dealing effectively with conflicts and react with silence or gossip, bending established rules or legislating new one. We perceive “trouble in the church” as un-Christian and shameful. Yet, Jesus expected conflict and taught ways of constructively responding to it. Mediation can help!
- Matthew 18:15-20, Acts 6: 1-7, Acts 15
- God intends for us to live in peace.
- God’s peacemaking starts with us.
- The issue is not if we have conflict, but how we respond.
- Direct communication works.
- We draw on one another’s spiritual gifts.
- We join in the Spirit’s work of resolving our differences.
Arrange for Mediation Services
A request for mediation may originate from a consistory, classis, Synod staff or an appropriate judicatory committee.
Classes will be notified of all requests.
Inquiries about mediation services may be made by contacting the Mediation Coordinator or the Regional Synod of New York.
When Mediation is Appropriate
- Facts are unknown or misread
- Ground rules are breaking down
- One problem is triggering many others
- Communication is indirect & inaccurate
- One-on-one negotiation is failing
What About Costs?
Costs for mediation are paid by those who use the service, according to this schedule:
- $100 per mediator per session
- $25/hr pre/post session work
- 48.5 cents/mile travel
- Classis/Synod aid may be available.
Mediation Team Members
Rev. Nancy Callender
Rev. William Dolster
Rev. Richard Hasselbach
Rev. Thomas Hungyong Song
Rev. Abby Norton-Levering
Rev. Greg Town
The Team, for over a decade, is made up of clergy and other professionals who bring a variety of skills. Within the Team is expertise in therapy and counseling, group process, conflict resolution, educational models, and interim training. In recent years, newer members of the Team, joined by more experienced members, engage in contract mediation in a variety of settings.
We meet seven or eight times a year and discuss possible mediation situations, plan training events for churches, and assign small groups of persons from the Team to carry out specific mediation tasks as requested by consistories and classes.
Our group meetings have expanded from three to four hours to allow more time to reflect on responses to specific situations.
Taking advantage of continuing education opportunities, some members attended a workshop on Healthy Congregations offered by Rickard Blackburn of the Lombard Center, a newer member completed a Lombard residential Training Institute, and some members joined a workshop with Peter Steinke offered through the Capitol Region Theological Center.