Port Vue UMC Conflict Management Policy
It is our prayer that all members and attenders of Port Vue UMC 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 our church has established a conflict management 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 Port Vue UMC 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 Port Vue UMC will respect different ideas and views and will express disagreement with civility and Christian love, which means acting in the best interest of those with whom we disagree. (1 Peter 4S, 1 John 3:18).
2. Gossip is strongly discouraged as dishonoring to our Lord Jesus Christ (James 4:11-12). In all circumstances, confidentiality shall be respected.
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). Please be aware that any ambiguous accusations or anonymous notes cannot be addressed without a specific complaint brought by a named person.
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, 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. 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).
8. Only after all these avenues have been exhausted should parties contact the district superintendent of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference with the exception that any concerns involving sexual misconduct of church leadership should be directed to the district superintendent.
9. All allegations involving child abuse must be handled as directed in the church’s Safe Sanctuaries policy and according to the law as mandated reporters.
10. Mediators and committees asked to intervene in conflict shall strive to listen carefully to all sides, facilitate forgiveness with reconciliation, and engage all parties in proposing resolutions. Resolution shall be defined as mutual agreement or understanding among all the parties in a conflict.
11. 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, should contact the SPRC Chair or other SPRC Committee member. Please see Attachment A to view the steps the SPRC will follow in addressing your concerns.
12. If all efforts at resolution fail, and parties believe they are not able to remain in fellowship, anyone wishing to leave the church is asked to do so lovingly, without bitterness on the part of the one leaving or on the part of those staying at this church, so that we may not bring disgrace on the name of Jesus (1 John 2:10).
Initial Policy Date: August 2021. SPRC Committee Members
Attachment A: Port Vue UMC SPPRC
(Staff Pastor Parish Relations Committee) Grievance Policy
When a parishioner comes to a member of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee with a complaint about the pastor:
First Step – Listen attentively; then encourage him/her to talk with the pastor.
Second Step – If he/she will not talk with the pastor alone, ask if he/she would talk to the pastor with you present.
Third Step – If he/she will not talk to the pastor with you present, ask if he/she would like you to talk to the pastor for him/her, but reveal his/her name.
Fourth Step – If he/she would not like you to talk to the pastor for him/her, ask if he/she would come to a meeting of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee and share his/her concerns with the committee with the pastor present.
Fifth Step – If he/she will not attend a Pastor Parish Relations Committee meeting ask if he/she would like you to represent his/her concern for him/her at the next Pastor Parish Relations Committee meeting. Let him/her know that you will reveal his/her name, you will explain the specifics of the situation to the committee, and that the pastor will be present.
Beyond these five steps, there is nothing more you can do officially to help the parishioner.
Initial Policy Date: August 2021. SPRC Committee Members