Conflict and diverse opinions in organizations are healthy and natural; however, it is important to handle situations well so that solutions are encouraged before conflicts can escalate and become major issues. A couple of years ago, a few issues surfaced in our congregation which resulted in several people feeling hurt and in diverting energy from other areas of the organization. It would have been helpful at the time to have a team in place for dealing with conflict, as well as taking preventative steps. Having better systems in place will allow us, as a congregation, to live more fully into our UU principles.
This is exactly what we are trying to build now, and to achieve these ends, the Healthy Congregations Task Force (under the auspices of the Committee on Ministry) has been working on creating a framework for a Healthy Congregations Team. This Team will not only handle conflict resolution but also work with the congregation on creating a covenant, holding educational sessions, fostering healthy approaches to diverse opinions, etc. Other Unitarian Universalist congregations across the continent are engaged in similar work, and we have been inspired by the model used by the Olympia UU Congregation in Olympia, Washington.
Brief informational meetings on Healthy Congregation initiatives will be held following the Sunday services on September 23 and October 14. Please plan to attend one of these. The Task Force members are Doug Buck, Helen Iacovino, Jane Larimer (formerly), Terri Marks, Karen Partanen and Janice Tait. We envision that, as a result of forming a Healthy Congregations Team, in the future we will be collectively less afraid of conflict but more importantly have the mechanisms and skills to handle divergent views more constructively and with a loving attitude. We welcome your feedback and input, as the congregation prepares to launch this new initiative.