The Columbus Mennonite church Reconciliation Team (RT) is committed to supporting healthy relationships and open communication in our congregation. As leaders in a peace church, we believe it is particularly important to identify and use peaceful approaches to conflict. To that end, we encourage CMC members to consider these guidelines when dealing with differences between individuals and groups.
1. We believe that it is for those in conflict to determine when they need or want outside help. The RT may offer their services but individuals decide when they want this involvement.
2. We encourage individuals and groups to have an explicit agreement regarding confidentiality, so that members understand what can and cannot be shared outside a group or relationship.
3. We encourage groups and individuals to read Matthew 18 and follow its lead when dealing with differences. Whenever possible, we urge people to speak directly, privately, and with compassion to individuals with whom they have differences. If that feels too uncomfortable or unsafe, we urge them to take someone with them to have a witness or support person who might help the parties hear each other.
4. Reconciliation depends on the good intentions of all involved. We encourage everyone when dealing with differences to assume the noble intent (or good intentions/good faith/sincerity) of the others involved. When that is not felt, we encourage you to talk with a Shepherding Team or RT member about your concerns.
5. The RT will address complaints from individuals only if they allow their name to be shared with the person(s) to whom the concern is directed. This is so that communication is as clear as possible. The only exceptions are when there are power imbalances or in issues of abuse.
6. When in conflict and going directly to those involved, we encourage face-to-face communication whenever possible and discourage the use of email or phone for communication due to the increased chance of miscommunication.
7. When there is a concern between individuals, we encourage each individual to seek first to understand fully the other’s perspectives, feelings, needs and preferences and then to express his/her own perspectives, feelings, needs and preferences using compassionate communication. The RT can help with this.
8. We encourage all to acknowledge genuine concern and care for the individual on the other side of a complaint or a conflict.
9. We encourage the liberal and appropriate use of apology on two levels: to acknowledge and express regret that an individual has been hurt and to acknowledge and express regret when a mistake has been made.
10. We encourage the liberal and appropriate use of forgiveness while acknowledging that forgiveness is a process that takes time and prayer when a major harm has occurred. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, it simply means letting go of the desire that the person who has harmed us suffers. This is the pathway to reconciliation, healing and return to right relationship.
11. If going directly to another person with one’s concern is not effective or possible, we encourage church members to contact someone on the Shepherding Team and/or the Reconciliation Team for consultation or assistance.
12. We believe that dealing with conflict and differences in these ways can lead to growth and connection and be life giving rather than destructive.