A new service is being launched today (April 24) by the Church in Wales to help settle conflict when it arises between parishioners or clergy.
The new mediation service aims to help manage workplace conflicts positively and resolve them constructively. It will be a launched at the meeting of the Church’s Governing Body in Llandudno.
Clergy or parishioners in dispute will be able to apply to seek the help of a mediator who will then organise a series of joint and private meetings in which both parties can talk and listen to each other.
Mediators, both lay and clergy, from each of the six dioceses in Wales have been specially trained and will be supported by the Church’s Human Resources team. In cases of bitter dispute, however, external professional mediators may be called in. The new service does not take away an individual’s right to invoke the formal grievance procedures where more appropriate.
Mediation is a voluntary, safe and confidential process which addresses the underlying causes of conflict or tension. Any final outcome is agreed by the parties, not the mediator. Their role is to promote positive engagement and encourage those in dispute to understand the others’ perspective and identify and agree a range of possible solutions.
Launching the mediation service, the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, said, “The Church is a human society like any other, and sadly conflicts do arise. Christians are dealing with a lot of challenges in an increasingly diverse Church, with differing attitudes to ministry and the role of clergy, and radical changes to the management of church life. Conflict is an inevitable part of change.
“However, Jesus did teach us that we should be a people who seek reconciliation and forgiveness, and we should lead society in offering models of the best ways in which to tackle conflict. Our new mediation service will help people in dispute to find ways of settling differences. Conflict is at its most damaging when it is suppressed, avoided or allowed to escalate. Mediation can help identify and deal with issues early and identify ways to resolve the conflict.”