Dealing with conflict in positive ways

27 June 2023

The Methodist Conference has voted to roll out a scheme to help resolve disputes in church communities across the Church following a successful pilot project. The Conference adopted the recommendation for the five-year programme, in partnership with Place for Hope, to offer an integrated approach in support of Positive Working Together and extending the Reconciliation and Mediation Team as a Connexion-wide programme.

The Reconciliation and Mediation Team Pilot Project is run with Place for Hope and started two and a half years ago in three regions, with 18 mediators now qualified to work on the project.

The project aims to help individuals and groups deal with conflict in more positive ways and to avoid, where possible, going through the formal complaints process.

The pilot project engaged with a wide variety of groups across the Methodist Church, including working at the Methodist youth event 3Generate, the Superintendents’ Conference and supporting a pilot scheme within the Justice, Dignity and Solidarity strategy. Coaching was also offered to new ordinands in 2021 and 2022 which focused on managing change and transition.

Katie Bradley from Place for Hope said: “We are delighted with the results of the pilot, which reveal the beginnings of a strengthened collective and strategic response to faith-based conflict. Place for Hope is excited to be continuing its collaboration with the Methodist Church over the coming years, as step by step, we roll out the same provision of support for those facing conflict and change across the whole Church.”

Those involved in the project developed a greater understanding of how conflict operates in faith communities and are sharing this with others as they use their mediation skills. The Revd Mark Carrick is a minister in the Derbyshire North-East Circuit and said: "As an ordinand, the opportunity to undertake this coaching session was invaluable. As followers of Christ, our behaviours and attitudes are studied by all outside the Church. As an ordinand, the scrutiny is within our walls, too, so it is important we deal with change, conflict, and transition in the most gracious way we can."

Richard Armiger, Director of Learning and Development at the Methodist Church said: “The pilot showed what we suspected, that there was a desire for people to sort out differences and conflicts without resorting to the formal complaints process. We are delighted that overall, the project has exceeded our expectations. I am really excited about developing the integrated approach for this work and the significant difference it will make in the life of the church.