Workshop helps Church leaders learn to look for hope in the midst of conflict

March 01, 2007

In response to research that indicates up to 61% of clergy have become burned out due to conflict in their churches, United Methodist Pastoral Care and Counseling sponsored a conference entitled Hope in Conflict: Discovering Wisdom in Congregational Turmoil.


More than 50 clergy and lay leaders gathered at the United Methodist Center in Birmingham on March 1 to hear the presenter Dr. David Sawyer from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Dr. Sawyer provides leaders with ritual steps to take in order to find hope in conflicted situations; and offers structures, stories, and symptoms as convenient ways to understand the mystery of a congregation's conflict. He also offers the use of a hopeful hypothesis as a way to seek positive health and stay humble in the wake of conflict.

Dr. Sawyer states that his hope is to show pastors how to accomplish the difficult task of looking beyond the superficial or most obvious reasons for a particular conflict within their own church and to find that which is hopeful. He challenges us to see the inner wisdom in conflict.

One attendee stated This is a radical concept. If we can get our brain around a hopeful frame of reference, it can change our conference. It's a true paradigm shift.

Dr. Sawyer has recently written a book entitled Hope in Conflict: Finding Wisdom in Congregational Turmoil. It is now available from Cokesbury.

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