Through Right Relations and Conflict Engagement

Given that we really do affirm and promote . . .

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part;

. . . how do we put these affirmations into practice in our interactions with one another?


We can’t live without it, but it sure can be difficult to live with it!

Change generates uncertainty, fear, conflict — and excitement, energy, and growth. When we’re in right relationship with one another and can welcome conflict as a natural part of healthy congregational life, we can contend with change. If we lack information or skills for engaging constructively in conflict, or if we don’t have a foundation of right relationships, change can tear us apart.


What typically generates congregational conflict?

  • Theological perspectives. Humanist-theist-pagan-other tensions.
  • Church size. Growth. Lack of growth. Concerns about loss of community.
  • Staff. Lay-led or minister-led congregation. A minister leaving. Whether to hire a religious educator. Expanding or cutting staff.
  • Worship styles. Time of worship services. Adding an additional service. Whether to include children.
  • Buildings and space. Expansion. Renovation. Deciding to build a new building. Renting space vs. using it for congregational needs.
  • Power and authority. Governance. Board, congregation and staff relationships. Who decides what.
  • Social Justice. Taking advocacy positions. How to respond to threats of war. Who speaks for the congregation.
  • Identity. Inclusiveness. Diversity. Changing the congregation’s name.
  • Regional relationships. Competition. Cooperation. Mergers.
  • Trust. Covenants. Behavioral policies. Right Relations. Creating safety.
  • Fear of change. Taking risks. Respecting tradition. Letting go.
  • Solutions

What do you do if you’re contending with conflict, or want to head it off?

Understand Conflict

What, there are levels to conflict? Learn how to identify types of conflict and how to work through them constructively.Learn how to avoid triangulation and to practice non-anxious leadership as keys to good conflict management.

Organize for Right Relationships

Learn how to create behavior covenants and why they can help your congregation thrive.Discuss the strengths of vision- and mission-oriented planning and how to plan with conflict in mind.

Learn About Congregational Systems

What makes a congregation tick?How does systems theory help us understand the intricacies of congregational life?How can it help us create right relationships?

Create Covenant Groups

Create opportunities for people to experience what they join your congregation for in the first place.These are better than committees, more powerful than a potluck!Conflict Engagement/Right Relations Consulting Team

The Prairie Star District CERR Consulting Team was available to help congregations prepare for healthy conflict and create structures to promote right relationships.

Members of the team tailored programs to fit your needs, with local and regional workshops or individual congregational consultation.

CERR Team Members

Sharon Blevins
Cheri Cody
Rev. Brian Eslinger

Prairie Star District Staff

Nancy Heege

Rev. Phillip Lund

Team members were trained to work with conflict and right relations, and are experienced in: ministry, religious education, leadership development, mediation, conflict management, and implementing right relations.

Consultations in conflict and right relations traning thanks to a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Panel and funding by Prairie Star and five other UUA Districts.