Peace Building Team

PBT-Pack_Matthews
Former Peace Building Team Leader Pack Matthews at a meeting of the team

The Peace Building Team (PBT) was organized in 2002 to provide education about conflict resolution and to facilitate processes through which church members may raise conflicts and concerns in an atmosphere of openness, respect and trust.

The aim of the team is to prevent and resolve conflicts constructively, creatively and in keeping with UU principles.

On this page:
Vision
Rationale
Peace Building Team Membership Selection
Confidentiality Process and Procedures
Peace Building Team Members and Requests for Assistance
Ten Tips for Working Through Conflict


Vision

The Peace Building Team envisions a church culture which understands and acts on the belief that conflict between individuals and groups presents an opportunity for constructive dialog and creative change, both on a personal and institutional level.

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Rationale

The purpose of the Peace Building Team is to help people or groups solve their own problems. Mediators/facilitators remain neutral about the issues at hand, and they do not offer solutions. The solutions are developed by the people with the problem.

The conflict resolution process is confidential, and records are kept without names in order to protect identities of the people involved.

People who have participated in similar processes have reported that it helped them to understand the other person’s point of view, and that the solution was effective because it was clear, mutual, and workable.

Because our community is so important to us, we feel this is the best way to preserve relationships and follow our principles in finding positive solutions to disagreements and conflicts.

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Peace Building Team Membership Selection

The PBT is made up of members selected for their abilities to help others resolve differences. They have had training provided by professional mediators and will continue to receive training in church related issues.

The team both coordinates the conflict resolution process and acts as mediator.

In the future, the team hopes to train additional individuals who will serve in the PBT pool. New team members will be selected and trained by the current team and then confirmed by the Board of Trustees. They will be selected based on demonstrated skills in facilitation and communication as well as commitment to UU principles.

Current team members are listed below.

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Confidentiality

The team meets to discuss current conflicts and to monitor situations and concerns within the church body. Minutes are kept, but names are not used in order to protect parties’ confidentiality. The team does not report to any other committee about parties involved in mediation or other activities of the team.

At the same time, the team may need to involve other church leadership in decision-making if conflicts reach levels that require additional attention.

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Process and Procedures

A church member in a conflict with another member or congregant of the church may approach any PBT member in order to request assistance. The team is also open to facilitating discussions between groups such as committees, interest groups and/or the Board of Trustees. The PBT member will gather pertinent information and determine whether the team can help resolve the conflict. If more information is necessary, he or she will contact other PBT members.

A PBT member will have a short discussion with each of the parties and explain mediation to each party. He or she will also schedule a block of time for the parties to get together with the mediators in order to resolve the conflict.

While the PBT hopes to work within the church to handle conflicts, there are times when an outside facilitator is necessary. In those cases, a UUA MidAmerica Region staff member is often available.

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Peace Building Team Members and Requests for Assistance

If you have any questions about the Peace Building Team or its role in the church, please contact one of the members or ask the minister for assistance.

If you are involved in a conflict with another member or congregant of the church and would like assistance in resolving your differences, please contact a member of the team.

If you are a concerned third party, please encourage one of the people involved to contact a PBT member.

Current team members are:

  • Dave Gibbons – email
  • Paul Ladehoff – email
  • Caya Tanski-French – email

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Ten Tips for Working Through Conflict

  1. Move toward it, don’t run from it.
  2. Open up communication—make it safe to agree or disagree.
  3. Listen.
  4. Clarify the issues from each person’s viewpoint.
  5. Pay attention to emotions as well as issues.
  6. Focus on each person’s underlying needs and interests.
  7. Be aware of power differences.
  8. Look for common ground.
  9. Consider several possible solutions before choosing ones that meet both persons’ needs and interests.
  10. Know when to ask for skilled help.

[Tips reprinted from materials provided by Education for Conflict Resolution, Inc., North Manchester, IN.]

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