Healthy Congregations Team

Charged by the Board of Trustees to help build a culture of trust and right relations at First Universalist Church of Denver.

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First published in the October 16 issue of our Happenings email newsletter.

In August 2020, Healthy Congregations (HC) created a dedicated team to focus on our BoT charge to develop a Conflict Transformation Process. The team is made up of Tom Pritchard and HC members Mimzy Tackney-Moen, Dan Moen and Mark Schneider. The team had the opportunity to interview members of the North Lake UU congregation about their experience with their Pathway to Conflict Resolution process, and we are reviewing the Alban Institute's Levels of Conflict hierarchy to use as mileposts as we develop our own First Universalist Pathway to Conflict Transformation Process. The process will include specialized training for small group leaders and designated conflict mediators as well as training for members around conflict awareness and resolution.

The use of trained conflict mediators will be key to making sure that the conflict transformation process is fair for all participants, whether members or staff, and is consistent with our community mission and vision. Training under discussion for the entire congregation and staff includes non-violent communication, active listening and compassionate listening. This training would be integrated with other HC initiatives, such as small group covenants and listening circles that HC will be using to help build beloved community. We expect that we will identify different levels of conflict that can happen, and that we will have somewhat different processes for the different levels. In all of our work we will keep an eye out for how we connect this process to the church's established processes.

First shared at the September 27 Congregational Meeting.

A progress report is transactional, a report on tasks. But it is important to bear in mind that the tasks and transactions all have a deeper, lasting impact on changing our culture: where members feel safe and can express their ideas and opinions knowing that they will be listened to carefully and respectfully; where we can welcome challenge and even conflict as opportunities to learn and grow; where love prevails and we all are committed to learning to live into our 7 (8?) Principles.

1. Develop Small Group Covenants for all Church groups

• Small group covenants help to build a healthy, energized and engaged congregational culture by helping us to be intentional about living our seven principles.
• Research completed
• Beginning to reach out to groups to assist in developing and using their own behavioral covenants
• Emphasis on spiritual aspects of using a covenant, and on keeping covenants vital and relevant
• Use of small group behavioral covenants help create a healthy group culture through intentionality

2. Work with COM to disseminate Covenant of Respectful Relations
• COM and HCT will meet to discuss how we can best help the church, where our roles overlap and where we operate independently
• Dissemination of the Covenant of Respectful Relations may happen as part of the conflict transformation process

3. In collaboration with COM, develop Conflict Transformation Team, including training, written policies and procedures
• Conflict Transformation Team is working
• Conflict Transformation Process under development, including research into Pathway to Conflict Resolution (Northlake UU), Levels of Conflict Hierarchy (Alban Institute)
• Conflict training to include training for members, small group leaders, staff and conflict mediators • Levels of training will be integrated with other initiatives (small group covenants, listening circles, etc.)
• Training and process will align with our community mission and vision

4. Education and skill building for the Congregation
• Education and skill building with the purpose of creating and maintaining healthy relationships and a healthy, engaged, vibrant community
• Developing plans to solicit input from congregation about topics. What would YOU like to learn about to help support a healthy, energetic culture?
• Will work with Lifespan Learning Council to develop and implement education and skill building plan that includes youth

5. Initiate Listening Circles for ongoing and specific issues
• Developing plans to solicit input from congregation about topics (coffee hour, survey, “living” google doc)
• Developing protocols for various types of Circles – topical, ongoing, listening vs. discussion, etc.
• Plans to collaborate with Councils re set up, facilitation, protocols
• Possible ideas: Candles in Community, Worship Service Talk Back, Sexual Harassment, Where do you find G*d, Self-care, Generational Divide, Surviving the Pandemic