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Commitments for Mennonites in Times of Disagreement
"Making every effort to maintain the unity
of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph.
as both individual members and the body of Christ, we pledge that we
|| Acknowledge together
that conflict is a normal part of our life in the church. Romans
|| Affirm that as
God walks with us in conflict we can work through to growth. Ephesians
|| Admit our needs
and commit ourselves to pray for a mutually satisfactory solution
(no prayers for my success or for the other to change but to find
a joint way). James
to the other
|| Go directly to
those with whom we disagree; avoid behind-the-back criticism.*
the spirit of humility
|| Go in gentleness,
patience and humility. Place the problem between us at neither
doorstep and own our part in the conflict instead of pointing
out the others'. Galatians
quick to listen
|| Listen carefully,
summarize and check out what is heard before responding. Seek
as much to understand as to be understood. James
slow to judge
|| Suspend judgments,
avoid labeling, end name calling, discard threats, and act in
a nondefensive, nonreactive way. Romans
willing to negotiate
the disagreements constructively. Acts
- Identify issues, interests, and needs
of both (rather than take positions).
- Generate a variety of options for meeting
both parties' needs (rather than defending one's own way).
- Evaluate options by how they meet the
needs and satisfy the interests of all sides (not one side's
- Collaborate in working out a joint solution
(so both sides gain, both grow and win).
- Cooperate with the emerging agreement
(accept the possible, not demand your ideal).
- Reward each other for each step forward,
toward agreement (celebrate mutuality)
steadfast in love
|| Be firm in our
commitment to seek a mutual solution; be stubborn in holding to
our common foundation in Christ; be steadfast in love. Colossians
open to mediation
|| Be open to accept
skilled help. If we cannot reach agreement among ourselves, we
will use those with gifts and training in mediation in the larger
We will trust
the community and if we cannot reach agreement or experience
reconciliation, we will turn the decision over to others in
the congregation or from the broader church. Acts
- In one-to-one or small group disputes,
this may mean allowing others to arbitrate.
- In congregational, conference district
or denominational disputes, this may mean allowing others
to arbitrate or implementing constitutional decision-making
processes, insuring that they are done in the spirit of these
guidelines, and abiding by whatever decision is made.
the Body of Christ
|| Believe in and
rely on the solidarity of the Body of Christ and its commitment
to peace and justice, rather than resort to the courts of law.
|| *Go directly if you are European-North
American; in other cultures disagreements are often addressed
through a trusted go-between.
Adopted by the General Conference Mennonite Church
Triennial Session and Mennonite Church General Assembly, Wichita, KS,
July 1995, Proceedings, pp. 46-47.