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NEWSLETTER: October 2011
In This Issue
Conflict: a Price We Have to Pay
Workshops on Conflict
Other Resources on Conflict
New Accessibility Guidelines for Congregations
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October, 2011

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Religious Education 

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Conflict: a Price We Have to Pay  

Doug Zelinski

by Doug Zelinski,

Director of Leadership Development 


I will confess to almost starting three email flame wars. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, this is when one email triggers a nasty response from the recipient, who also shares it with others. As the interchange escalates so do the number of people drawn into the demeaning, self-righteous, bitter and even shocking interchange. And, yes, this was church-related.


I don't actually know how email flame wars end because, fortunately, I never pressed the "send" button. I had indulged my own self-righteous anger long enough to write the scathing email but withdrew my finger from the trigger in time. What I remember most is how much time and energy that self-indulgence cost and how exhausted it all made me feel.


Conflict costs. Whether we trigger flame wars or suppress conflict with polite denials, it costs. The price we pay is our time, attention, and energy. Some members pay that price until they are spiritually wounded or even bankrupt. But other members have learned to leverage conflict so the time and energy it costs becomes their investment in the beloved community.


One critical sign of a vital congregation is not the absence of conflict but rather the presence of members who approach conflict as faith formation. Every conflict we encounter provides the opportunity for each of us to re-examine our relationship to the mission of the congregation and the values of our faith community. Better still, it then usually requires us to act on those values -- faith in action of the most personal kind.


Conflict is inevitable. In fact, it's normal. In the last five years, 65% of all congregations across denominations report having high levels of conflict, (see FACT source below). What matters is how we choose to pay the price -- on the road to bankruptcy or on the path to beloved community.  


Workshops on Conflict    

To learn how conflict works as faith formation register for one or both of the following workshops led by Doug Zelinski:


Other Resources on Conflict    

New Accessibility Guidelines for Congregations  

Wheel ChairThe new Accessibility Guidelines for Unitarian Universalist Congregations: Creating Welcoming Congregations for People of all Abilities was developed by The Policy Committee of Equual Access, a volunteer-run Unitarian Universalist organization that promotes equality and access for Unitarian Universalists with disabilities.
This policy, in both print and on-line version, is intended to raise awareness and offer guidance to congregations in their efforts to be as inclusive as possible with respect to people with varying abilities.