This policy was adopted by the church Administrative Board in 2009, demonstrating our commitment to resolving differences in a Christ-like manner.

Stehman Memorial UM Church Conflict Resolution Policy

It is our prayer that all members and attenders of Stehman Memorial United Methodist Church will follow the example of our head, Jesus Christ, in treating each other with love and respect. Recognizing that differences of opinion and conflicts are inevitable in any human endeavor, however, our church desires to establish a conflict resolution policy that we call on members and attenders to follow, so that when conflict does occur, Jesus will be honored by our efforts to resolve our differences in love and maintain the unity of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:2-3).

Our goal is that the people of Stehman Memorial United Methodist Church will not walk away from the church because of conflict but will work together to overcome differences and find the common ground we share in Christ. Such an approach is biblically mandated and serves as an example to the non-Christian world that we are indeed disciples of Christ (John 13:34-35).

Conflict may be as simple as a difference of opinion, or it may involve a disagreement over church doctrine, or dissatisfaction with one or more of the church’s leadership, or an argument involving two or more parties concerning the policies and direction of the church.

Therefore, we expect that:

1.      In all interactions with each other, the people of Stehman Memorial United Methodist Church will respect different ideas and views and will express disagreement with civility and Christian love, which means acting in the best interest of those we disagree with (1 Peter 4:8, 1 John 3:18).

2.      Gossip is strongly discouraged as dishonoring to our Lord Jesus Christ (James 4:11-12).

3.      Disagreements and conflicts should be addressed as soon as possible; the longer conflict is unresolved, the harder it is to bridge the differences (Matthew 5:23-24).

4.      If two parties have a disagreement, the ideal response is for them to meet together, face to face, to discuss the matter and seek common ground (Matthew 18:15).

5.      If any person in the church has a concern or a complaint about a leader of the church, whether the pastor or lay official, the concerned person is strongly encouraged to discuss the matter directly with the leader involved (Matthew 18:15).

6.      If for any reason it is not possible to meet one-on-one, parties with a conflict or disagreement should seek the mediation of a church leader. Preferred mediators are the lay leader or assistant lay leader, chairperson of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Administrative Board chairperson or the pastor. Church leaders may recommend another party as mediator, possibly someone from outside the congregation or conference-related mediation resources (Matthew 18:16).

7.      Depending on the situation, a team of mediators may be required to intervene in a conflict (Matthew 18:16).

8.      If mediation is unsuccessful in resolving a conflict, one or both of the parties may bring the matter to one of the boards of the church. Conflicts involving the pastor or staff members should be addressed first to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Other conflicts should be addressed to the Administrative Board. The Administrative Board shall be the final arbiter of conflicts unresolved through SPRC (Matthew 18:17).

9.      Only after all these avenues have been exhausted should parties contact the district superintendent or bishop of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

10. Concerns involving sexual misconduct of church leadership should be directed first to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s I-CARE team, which is tasked with handling such matters. This team may be reached by phoning the conference office at 800-828-9093 and asking for contact information for the I-CARE team. Alternatively, such concerns may be taken to the Southwest District superintendent.

11. All allegations involving child abuse must be handled as directed in the church’s Safe Sanctuaries policy.

12. Mediators and committees asked to intervene in conflict shall strive to propose resolutions to conflict.

13. Resolution shall be defined as mutual agreement or understanding among all the parties in a conflict.

14. In all circumstances, confidentiality shall be respected.

15.  If all efforts at resolution fail, and parties believe they are not able to stay in community in peace, any party wishing to leave Stehman’s fellowship is asked to do so lovingly, without rancor or bitterness on the part of the one leaving or on the parts of those staying at this church, so that we may not bring disgrace on the name of Jesus (1 John 2:10).

16. Anyone who believes they are in a conflict situation and is unsure of how to proceed should first contact the pastor for counsel or, if the conflict involves the pastor, either the lay leader or the Administrative Board chairperson.