While the measurable goal of the Peacemaker Fellowship is to have a trained and certified cadre of persons in each congregation, the larger vision is to inculcate a more mature and creative relationship to the conflicts that inevitably arise in human community. That relationship depends on a perspective that asserts certain truths.
- Any human relationship will experience conflict. The greater the depth of the relationship the more poignant and intense the conflicts are likely to be.
- The depth of any relationship is a measure of how well we are naming, addressing, and resolving the conflicts that arise in it. The better our conflict resolution skills, the more intimate the relationship becomes.
- Thus, the more faithful we are as the Beloved Community—the more fully we are the Body of Christ—the greater will be the complexity and intensity of the conflicts that arise.
- The hallmark of any community of faith is thus that the depth of the relationships which form the community is measured not by how few conflicts arise but by how fully all the conflicts which arise are addressed.
The development of the Peacemaker Fellowship is thus not a way to stamp out conflicts as soon as they are identified, but as a way to support the building up of a more robust and mature theology of conflict in our community of faith.
Having said that it must also be noted that some of the conflicts we observe in our congregations are not born in the life of the community but are imported by persons important to the community who are experiencing their own conflicts and bring them into the community as a way to work them out, though not generally in a conscious manner.
For example, a prominent lay leader may feel as though she is not getting appreciation in her personal life, in her work or her family, and so brings urgency to an issue in the church that is not proportionate to the issue itself. It becomes a way to get the attention she needs in a context outside of where she is feeling impoverished. This becomes a pastoral opportunity. If the pastor is able to discover the source of the distress and help her make more effective choices on her own behalf then she can heal.
But if the issue she has attached urgency to is one of disaffection with the pastor, say that his sermons are too long, and she chooses only to speak to people who don’t have the formal ability to address her concerns, the problem can have festered in such a way that the pastor is handcuffed and can’t effectively address or even discern the deeper sources of the conflict.
We envision then a cadre of Peacemakers who are trained in and confident at naming, addressing, and resolving conflict. We hope to have trained persons in each congregation with a support system outside of the congregation. We have in mind a team of a half dozen persons distributed around the Conference or Region such that each has a territory and each of the congregations knows their Peacemaker as a resource for them.
Introductory Peacemaker Training:
To identify and train these persons we offer an introductory one day event. It is from 9:00 – 3:00 on a Saturday and provides an overview of the Peacemaker Fellowship and then invites participants into an experience of the content of the training. This training is a quick introduction to the JustConflict material. The cost is $50 and includes lunch.
Two-day Intensive Peacemaker Retreat
Those with sufficient interest will participate in a more in-depth two-day training. This will be an opportunity to go deeper with the theory but especially to go deeper with the practice as we identify and address conflicts in our own lives. It will be at a hotel or conference center where will will take all our meals and will be housed over-night. It will begin one morning at 10:00 and end by 5:00 the following day. The cost is $185 plus the cost of meals and room.
These trainings will be offered periodically to refresh and expand the Fellowship. All those who have attended at least the introduction will be invited to meet annually at the Peacemakers Annual Conference.
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