CER Conflict Engagement Resources

Hope Johnson

Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson

Conflict is natural and exists in each and every congregation offering opportunities for growth and change. The goal for congregations is to develop a keen awareness of unhealthy conflict so that it can be diffused before it blows up into a major crisis. Congregations often miss the cues ignoring the patterns of behavior that lead to conflict that often escalates into crisis level.

Congregational Conflict Transformation begins with engagement. Knowing when—and who—to ask for help is often the first step. From there, commitment through covenant can begin to restore community as the work of conflict transformation begins. Your Congregational Life staff is ready to support you.

Unacknowledged “differences” often not only create, but also perpetuate conflict. Your regional staff is here to help congregations identify the ways that power, class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other dynamics affect conflict.

Knowing that there is no “one size fits all” approach, we gather information, look at congregational patterns, and try to get to the heart of the story always centering the health of the congregation. From there we integrate the themes of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restorative justice and offer a pathway through covenant that can support the transformation of conflict into something that is accessible that the entire congregation can benefit from. We include a focus on building or re-building community.

We look at patterns of behavior including oppressive behavior, which is often invisible. Another focal point is community. And then, there is communication.

Aside from having those who are well versed in conflict transformation we also have specialists with specific areas of expertise who we bring in, within and beyond the region. In the meantime, take a look at this site and you’ll find below some rich resources that might be helpful to you as you embark on the journey of conflict transformation. There are a few others below that might also be helpful.

Yours, HOPE

P.S. Our beloved Hope Johnson passed away in November 2020. As she suggested above, please get in touch with your primary contact to discuss options for your congregational conflict. Earlier is always better to check in!

The national conflict engagement program started by and named for Hope, HOPE For Us Conflict Engagement Team, is expected to be off the ground in the summer of 2022. Your primary contact can direct you to that program when appropriate.


About the Author

Hope Johnson

Hope Johnson was a beloved elder in Unitarian Universalism. She served as the Congregational Life Consultant for the UUA's Central East Region and the Southern Region. She brought specialties in conflict resolution and multicultural congregational development.

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