Are you a person with the rare but necessary gift to walk alongside people in conflict? Do you want to hone that gift and use it in the church? If so, you might be called to serve as a Mediator in your presbytery or within the Synod of the Northeast. We have created a Mediation Network that can provide Mediators to walk alongside churches or groups and committees in presbyteries to help solve conflicts before they reach the level of a remedial complaint. Our goal is reconciliation in Christ by mutual agreement. Matthew 5:25 and the Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order urge us to do everything we can to settle our differences, even on the way to court. Many people who have filed remedial complaints have said they did so because no one heard them. Our job is to hear all parties so that those of us in disputes don't become so angry that we are locked into a position, unable to provide space to hear God's voice.
What does mediation look like in practice? Mediation is a process where both parties are heard together and separately by two mediators. People come to understand what is most important and what each side needs (not wants) in order to reach agreement and accept the terms of mediation. Instead of a winner and loser in a conflict, both parties emerge as winners. Mediation creates a way for us to continue together in our work to serve Christ within a congregation, worshipping community or a presbytery free of residual anger or bad feelings.
If you would like to serve as a Mediator and have not been trained, the Synod has arranged for the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center to hold their Mediation Skills Training Institute at Stony Point April 25-29, 2016. This full week includes detailed information and practice that will allow everyone who attends to understand the mediation process, the theory behind it and how to do it. Lombard focuses on the specifics of church mediation, which is somewhat different from civil or legal mediation.
Click here for detailed information about the Mediation Skills Training Institute. You will find a description of activities and learning for each day under the schedule tab. The Synod has set aside Peacemaking and other funds to provide one full and one partial tuition scholarship per presbytery. If you live within our and are willing to serve on the Mediation Network for a minimum of two years after this training, you may apply for a scholarship by completing the form under the registration tab. The deadline for scholarship applications is February 15th. You will be notified by February 22nd. The deadline for early bird registration is March 18th.
We also seek people who have already been trained to join the Mediation Network so that we have a number of people available for any issues that may arise across the Synod. If you have been trained and wish to join the network, please complete the Mediation Network application at the same site as above under a tab named “Already Trained”. We will be in touch with you about next steps.
Let us join together in this reconciliation project to serve God in ways that are pleasing!