Conflict resolution policy of St. Thomas church Fostering Peacemaking in Our Parish
The Principles of Peacemaking[i]
“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23–24).[ii]
“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses”(Matt 18: 15–16).
Four G’s of Peacemaking[iii]
- Glorify God – How can I honor God in this situation, and how can I witness to what He has done?
- Get the log out of your eye – How have I contributed to this conﬂict and what do I need to do to resolve it?
- Gently restore – How can I help others to understand how they have contributed to this conﬂict?
- Go and be reconciled – How can I show forgiveness and encourage a reasonable solution to this conﬂict?
First Step of Peacemaking
In all conflicts and disputes, the first step toward resolution ought to be a gentle but clear address by the aggrieved party to the person with whom he or she has issue. This principle is in keeping with our Lord’s exhortation to, “be reconciled” with our fellow Christians. As it written words (such as email or letters) lend themselves to misinterpretation, all first attempts at peacemaking ought to be held in person between the two disputants. In the event of time or geographical constraints, phone conversations are preferable to written media.
Triangulation occurs when, either one or two parties, enlist a third party to serve as spokesman or scapegoat within the conflict. Instead of Triangulation, all attempts at peacemaking ought to occur in private and in confidence between the two parties.
Invocation of the Holy Spirit
In implementing these peacemaking procedures, all those involved, including, but not limited to, those charged with rendering determinations and otherwise assisting in the resolution of disputes, are fervently urged to invoke the guidance of the Holy Spirit and pray for peace and healing.
Peacemaking within the Parish[iv]
Disputes relating to Parishioners
Barring the success of a personal, private, and peaceful meeting through face-to-face discussion, any unresolved disputes between two parishioners shall be handled in the following way: the disputants should meet, in good faith, with the pastor, who shall attempt to resolve the dispute in a pastoral manner. If the dispute remains unresolved, the matter shall be submitted to the diocesan hierarch.
Disputes relating to the Pastor
After first attempting a personal, private, and peaceful resolution through face-to-face discussion, any unresolved disputes involving a pastor and a parishioner or a pastor and a parish council member, shall be submitted to the diocesan hierarch.
Disputes relating to Members of the Parish Council
Barring the success of a personal, private, and peaceful resolution through personal, face-to-face discussion, any unresolved disputes involving a parishioner and the parish council or a parish council member (in his or her capacity as an elected representative of the Church) shall be handled in the following way: the disputants should meet, in good faith, with the pastor, who shall attempt to resolve the dispute in a pastoral manner. If the dispute remains unresolved, the matter shall be submitted to the diocesan hierarch.
[i] This document was inspired by Fr. John Mefrige (AOCANA, St. Ephraim the Syrian, San Antonio) and his excellent work, “Seeking the Peace from Above: Peacemaking and Conflict-Resolution in the Church,” The Word, June 2010. Accessed electronically on 04/10/14 at http://www.antiochian.org/node/23185.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).
[iii] Ken Sande, Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004) 3rd ed.
[iv] The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America’s, Dispute Resolution Procedures (accessed 04/10/14 at http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/documents/pdf/disputeresolution.pdf) served as a base for these “peacemaking” resolutions.