02 June 2021
Reconciliation and mediation scheme piloted
The Methodist Church launches Reconciliation and Mediation Pilot Project in partnership with charity Place for Hope.
The pilot, running from 2021-2023, will provide a trained team of 20 accredited reconcilers and mediators to support groups and individuals at times of change or conflict, and to accompany sensitive or difficult group conversations. The pilot will deliver services within the Learning Network regions of the Eastern England, London, North West and Mann. (See note)
Rooted in the understanding that conflict is a catalyst for positive change and has the power to transform situations for the better, the project will enable and equip people to engage and interact with each other positively and respectfully within the life of the Church. It will offer support with a wide range of situations including patterns of ministry, styles of worship and membership issues, theological differences, facing the impact of a union or joining with other congregations and tensions around expectations and roles.
The pilot will begin in June 2021 with the participating districts, circuits and churches being contacted with further details of how to access the new services.
The charity Place for Hope is partnering the Church and offers similar services to faith communities in Scotland and England, bringing a wealth of experience in enabling faith communities to navigate difficulties and conflict well. Place for Hope will coordinate the volunteer practitioner team of women and men skilled in understanding conflict and providing mediation. Practitioners will work in groups of two or more to draw on each other’s experience and wisdom and offer peer support as they host conversations.
Richard Armiger, Director of Learning & Development with the Connexional Team commented: “Within the church we believe that everyone should be enabled to flourish, to become the people whom God created them to be. However, we recognise that the Church is not immune from the impact of conflict: recognising that wherever people come together in community there will be differences of opinion, understanding, values and beliefs. There will be times when external facilitation is required to navigate times of change, transition and conflict.
“This project offers an exciting opportunity for us to develop an approach to reconciliation and mediation that offers suitable input at the point where it is most needed. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Place for Hope as we seek to establish this pilot project and offer a transformational reconciliation and mediation service across the three Learning Network regions. My hope is that this project will enable us to discover new opportunities for positive working together as we seek to enable our church communities and the communities we serve to be places of peace and reconciliation, places where people can truly flourish in all their diversity.”
Carolyn Merry, Director, Place for Hope commented, “"We live in times of rapid change and increasing divisions, and the Church is not immune from the impact of such changes and conflict. Place for Hope is delighted to be partnering with the Methodist Church on the Reconciliation and Mediation Team (RMT) project.
“We will work with the Connexion to establish a diverse team of Practitioners who will be equipped to help churches navigate conflict well and reconcile brokenness and division. It is a project that requires both courage and hope from those participating, and I pray that it will also be a project that inspires us all to intentionally and courageously live out our faith as peacemakers and reconcilers in our daily lives - in the way we hold difficult conversations, approach differences and change, challenge injustices and violence, and heal broken relationships. I look forward to seeing the fruits of this transformational project in the years to come.”
You can read more about the scheme here.
Note * these Learning Network Regions include the Districts:
• Chester and Stoke-on-Trent District
• Cumbria District
• East Anglia District
• Isle of Man District
• Lancashire District
• Lincolnshire District
• Liverpool District
• London District
• Manchester and Stockport District
• Northampton District
• Nottingham and Derby District
• Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District
• Bolton and Rochdale District