Our current culture is fraught with conflict and tension. People often describe “walking on eggshells” or the inability to hold a respectful conversation with others. Disputes arise within communities, the workplace, families and far too often within our church congregations. Situations seem insurmountable and people become intractable.
The focus of this class is to prepare students to transform conflicts – Jesus style. His way starts with a private conversation with the person with whom we disagree (Matthew 18). Instead, we resort to the very unhealthy practice of “triangulation”: discussing the dispute with others not involved in the problem with the hope of gaining allies, dividing the group, or making someone else the broker.
In this course, students will learn to avoid these and other perils by gaining greater insight into what they bring to the dispute resolution table. We will be discussing the role that cultural and family background and values play, the importance of family systems, and genograms. We will also provide an overview of both active listening skills and non-violent communication. The goal is to provide students with skills to help conversations stay focused on the issue and to keep those involved from talking past each other.
We will also address non-violent protest – Jesus’ radical invitation to turning the other cheek (Matthew 5). Used by such revolutionaries as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi, this practice has changed the world in ways that bring sustainable peace.
Instructor: The Rev. Susan Brasier completed her undergraduate degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and her law degree at the University of Dayton, whereupon she worked as a trial lawyer for several decades. Because of her commitment to social justice issues, Susan earned special recognition for her work on behalf of domestic violence victims. She was featured in the national documentary “City of Shelter.” Susan attended Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div., Certificate in Theology, Women, and Gender) and was ordained in 2020. Formed by her upbringing in the church, Susan has a keen interest in peacemaking with extensive training in mediation and negotiations.
Instructor: Dr. Karen Petersen Finch is Professor of Pastoral Leadership at The Presbyterian College,. She is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA and a member of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest of that denomination. She previously served as Associate Professor of Theology at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. Karen is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv) and of Gonzaga University (PhD), with the latter studies and research completed in the area of Leadership Studies and Theology.