Quakers and conflict resolution (fwd)

Charles Hawkins chawkins at piedmont.edu
Mon Jul 13 09:13:42 JEST 1998

Dear Friends,
For several months I have been looking for AVP training that I could attend.
Does anyone know of a newsletter in the US that would give info on AVP? Does
any meeting in the SAYMA area plan to have such training?
Charles Hawkins

Errol Hess wrote:

> Is this something Friends might consider for 1999 Yearly Meeting?  It was
> sent me from Quaker House.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Friends and Friends Meetings
> I (Sandy) was sent this interesting report, which I thought you might be
> interested in.  I certainly find it exciting.
>      Friends Meetings and Churches as Training Centers for Peacemaking
> by
> Mary Lord
>      It happened as though on cue. Bette Hoover of the AFSC Middle
> Atlantic Region staff and I were leading a weekend  workshop on the
> Peace Testimony for the Southeast Region of Friends World Committee for
> Consultation (FWCC).
>      The room was filled with 30-40 Quakers, including several weighty
> Friends. Bette was leading the group on the first night and just
> starting to talk about living our peace testimony in a violent world.
> Suddenly, an angry neighbor burst into the Meetinghouse. He was a big
> man and he was very upset that someone had parked in the alley and
> blocked the entrance to his home. He was loud and verbally abusive, but
> not
> physically threatening anyone. An out-of-state Friend who had mistaken
> the alley for a driveway in the dark apologized and left to move her
> car. A local Friend who knew the  neighbor accompanied her. The man left
> after hurling a few more insults and curses at the assembled Quakers.
> The car was moved and the conflict was resolved uneventfully. Bette
> turned back to the planned presentation, but many Friends were very
> upset by the incident and needed to process it.
>     As the group worked through the event, it became clear to Bette and
> me that many of these lifelong Quakers were very uncomfortable dealing
> with violence or the threat of violence. While believing in nonviolence
> and peacemaking, many felt defenseless in the face of threat and
> violence in the society around them. A number shared their discomfort at
> dealing with conflict of any type, and told stories of minor conflicts
> in Friends Meetings that had escalated or festered because no one knew
> how to deal with them.  Friends tend to avoid or ignore conflict rather
> than try to resolve it. That night   Bette and I restructured the
> workshop, recognizing the group's need for more basic concepts and
> skills. In a brainstorming session later in the weekend, I offered the
> idea that we should turn our Monthly Meetings and Friends Churches into
> training centers for peace and conflict resolution.
> There was a strong response to the idea. For the past year, we've been
> experimenting at my Monthly Meeting (Adelphi) with ways to make conflict
> resolution skills a part of learning to be a Friend.
>      Adelphi is a Meeting of about 250 Friends in suburban Washington
> DC, not far from the University of Maryland. We have a lot of young
> families, and half of the Meeting members and attenders are children and
> youth. Most of the adults are convinced Friends, so the children are
> virtually our only birthright Quakers. Adelphi Friends were interested
> in learning conflict resolution skills for daily life. Conflicts with a
> spouse, with children, neighbors, or co-workers were the highest
> priority. Like many Friends meetings and churches we have several
> experienced trainers among us. We've relied on the CCRC (Children's
> Creative Response to Conflict) model which focuses on community building
> and has exercises that are easily adapted to daily life situations. Jane
> Manring and Marcy Seitel, experienced teachers and CCRC trainers, worked
> with me to design and lead the workshops.
>      We've now run three courses of three sessions each, all of which
> have been fully subscribed with 20-25 attendees. For the week night
> sessions when people are tired, we learned it was best to focus on one
> skill a session: listening, needs analysis, and communicating
> (I-messages) and give plenty of time for practice. It's also important
> to Friends to leave time for worship and to address the spiritual values
> that underlie the
> skills building. Our most recent workshop featured educator Marty
> Burgess who has been doing research on violence and the brain. The more
> we understand about our own natures and inborn survival needs, the more
> effectively we can understand the violence within ourselves and respond
> effectively to conflicts.
>      The Pendle Hill bookstore has let us have books on consignment to
> sell to Meeting members interested in learning more. A spin-off book
> group has been reading Dudley Weeks' The Eight Essential Steps to
> Conflict Resolution, a good basic overview written for the lay person.
> Several Friends have indicated they now want to get deeper into dealing
> with violence or potential violence. An AVP (Alternatives to Violence
> Program) training session is planned, which we hope will encourage more
> Friends to get involved in prison work and community violence projects.
> For now at least, we plan to offer two to three courses a year, and to
> integrate conflict resolution skills building into our approach to
> learning about Quakerism. An able committee does all the logistical
> reparation and planning, allowing the trainers to worry only about
> planning and leading the workshop. The work is jointly sponsored by our
> Peace and Social Concerns Committee and our Adult Religious Education
> Task Group. We hope to spread the idea to other Meetings and Yearly
> Meetings.
>      In December, about 20 people, mostly from Baltimore Yearly Meeting
> attended a weekend workshop at William Penn House on Capitol Hill on
> turning our Meetinghouses and Friends Churches into peace training
> centers. It was led by Elise Boulding, Kevin Clements, and me. Elise
> provided a framework with a discussion of the culture of peace,
> including the experiences of our families and Meeting communities as
> places that
> are and can be a peace culture. She then led us in a visioning exercise
> to encourage the imagination to create what our Meetings might be like.
> I shared the Adelphi      experience and led a team-building exercise.
> Kevin Clements, New Zealand Friend currently heading the Institute for
> Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Virginia,
> provided an invaluable overview of what has been learned from peace and
> conflict research and practice. There was much enthusiasm for
> implementing ideas in home meetings throughout the Yearly Meeting.
>      Individual Quakers like Kevin Clements and Elise Boulding have been
> deeply involved in creating and developing the fast-growing field of
> conflict resolution and management. There is now a considerable body of
> research and experience on which Friends can draw. Individual Quakers
> and Quaker organizations have also developed and spread CCRC,
> Alternatives to Violence Project, Help Increase the Peace Program, and
> many other training programs that are active throughout the world. Many
> Meetings have trainers and practitioners in our midst. Our Meetings can
> better support and nurture a larger witness in our communities and our
> world by designing and conducting projects that help Quakers learn
> skills of peacebuilding that are useful in daily life. Incidentally, we
> may even learn how to work together more effectively across the
> diversity of Friend's beliefs.
>      For nearly 350 years, Friends have testified "to that life and
> power that [takes] away the occasion of all wars. ...[to] the covenant
> of peace which was before wars and strifes were." (See The Journal of
> George Fox, A Year in Derby Jail, Friends United Press, 1983.) Personal
> pacifism, the renunciation of violence and war has been a consistent
> Friends' witness since the Society was formed. It is one of the things
> which
> defines us publicly in the wider world. But believing a thing does not
> necessarily mean we know what to do.
>      Often Friends peace testimony has been expressed as nonviolent
> protest against war or injustice. That prophetic protest is still
> needed. But we are also challenged to show ourselves and others that the
> path of nonviolence is not only right, it's also pragmatic and
> practical. For more information on how to turn your Monthly Meeting or
> Friends Church into a training center, contact Mary Lord, 2623 Holman
> Avenue, Silver Spring,
> MD 20910, 301/588-0626.
>                     ***The means are the ends.***

Charles Hawkins
Piedmont College
P.O. Box 10
Demorest, GA  30535

Phone:  (706) 778-8500 x169
mailto:  chawkins at piedmont.edu

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