“Reconciliation is the heartbeat of the gospel and God’s longing for humanity.”—Derwin L Grey, The High Definition Leader
The quote above lies at the heart of the partnership between the Irish Mission and the Centre for Conflict Resolution from La Sierra University in the USA. This partnership began in October 2019 when twenty people (18 from the Irish Mission) were trained as mediators. The training was organised by the Centre for Conflict Resolution and 4Civility Institute, and the graduates were certified with the Mediation Institute of Ireland. That was followed by an Advanced Mediation Training during August-September last year (i.e. 2020) via Zoom. During the following months, there were a number of online meetings where some of the mediators came together as founding members and launched the Centre for Conflict Resolution Europe (CCRE). Helena Kunova and Pr Dan Serb were elected co-chairpersons, with Heather Keough elected as the newly formed ministry’s secretary. CCRE was recognised as an official ministry of the Irish Mission at the 10th of January 2021 Executive Committee meeting.
The main goals of the CCRE are:
(1) run awareness and training programmes within local churches,
(2) provide mediation services and conflict resolution education to the community, and
(3) facilitate mediation training across Europe and the UK; moreover, CCRE would provide certification for those trained as mediators. The Centre represented the Irish Mission at the GC Virtual Global Campmeeting in May as part of a virtual booth, and it currently runs (in partnership with our USA sister Centre) mediation training with pastors from the South England Conference and North England Conference; moreover, a pilot-project of an online ‘kindness’ survey is being prepared for our youth under the leadership of Helena Kunova.
The initial contact with the Irish Mission was made by Richard Pershing towards the end of 2018. Richard is the founding Director for the Center for Conflict Resolution, Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, La Sierra University, Riverside, California. He holds a doctorate in law and practices law in California as a partner in Reynolds Jensen Swan & Pershing LLP, and is general counsel to Versacare Foundation and a member of the Versacare Foundation Board.
Meet our trainers:
Tony Belak is former Ombuds at the University of Louisville with a faculty appointment in the School of Urban and Public Affairs, and former Regional Counsel and Senior Dispute Resolution Counsel for the Department of Veterans. He is an associate director of the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra University and is recognized for his innovation in designing conflict resolution programs within the workplace. Tony wrote for us: “Conflict is said to be the lifeblood of vibrant, progressive, stimulating organizations which can spark creativity and innovation and encourage personal improvement and growth. Interpersonal conflict appears to be a necessary part of organizational life. Organizations in which there is little disagreement can fail in competitive environments when the members are either so homogenous that they are ill-equipped to adapt to changing conditions or so complacent that they see no need to improve the status quo. Conflict is a normal and natural occurrence of interacting with one another. The cost of resolving conflict is negligible relative to the cost of leaving conflicts unresolved.”
Dr John-Robert Curtin has extensive experience in conflict management, mediation, restorative practices, ombuds education, education, training and in anti-bullying efforts. He is a professor at Indiana University and at the University of Louisville. J-R (as he likes to be called) teaches conflict management, mediation, restorative justice, and human resources. He has also co-founded, with Tony Belak, the 4Civility Institutes in Louisville, Kentucky, and in Dublin, Ireland. Together they have trained over 5,000 mediators worldwide. J-R says: “Conflict is a normal and natural occurrence of interacting with one another. Much of the reaction toward conflict comes from not understanding its causes and from a lack of confidence in our personal skills in handling emotional and sensitive issues that often surround a conflict situation. A mediator should be able to assist in the resolution of interpersonal disputes so that the underlying problem is addressed and the relationship of the disputants is not damaged. The Centre for Conflict Resolution provides trained mediators/conflict counsellors to assist parties in conflict to find an interest based solution to their issue; the Centre’s ministry also aligns directly with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 2002 Peace Initiative.”
We would like to kindly thank the Versacare Foundation for their financial support which made our mediators’ training possible and ensures that our current projects come to fruition.
For more information on this ministry and to meet the Irish Mission mediators, visit https://www.ccreurope.org.
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:19,20)