Building Healthy Relationships Training Group for Clergy


The most valuable thing any one of us has is our relationships.  While this is true for everyone, it is especially true for those of us who gather with others into communities of faith.  In a local congregation we find many kinds of relationships but three types are especially important. 

  • ·         One is the relationships we form with other members of the community.  We join in fellowship with each other.  We create a community of care and concern in which we pray for each other and respond to each other's needs.
  • ·         A second kind of relationship is the one between the local congregation and all of the surrounding communities.  We have a common identity and as a collective relate to the neighborhood, other faith communities, agencies of the denomination, and other groups and associations.  We engage in mission.  We have a purpose which includes building relationships with other groups for our mutual benefit.
  • ·         The third type of relationship is the one between our physical nature and our spiritual nature.  This is a relationship which develops from the apprehension of an all-powerful God beyond, to the recognition of the divine in each other and all creation, to the awareness of the Spirit as the source of our very being welling up from within.

Each of these kinds of relationship is essential to the total vitality of the faith community.


Constructing relationships that have depth and durability and in which we find safety and satisfaction is difficult work.  There are many ways in which the stresses of modern life work against our ability to build such healthy relationships.  We will not be able to have the best qualities in our relationships if we do not become intentional about how we address those things that damage our relationships.

Over the past fifty years we have learned a lot about what healthy relationships are like and what it takes to create them.  There are many training programs that address aspects of work or family relationships.  There are at least three things all of these programs have in common.  

  • They offer the training in the context of a community of students in which all feel safe and included.  
  • They all teach a set of perspectives that challenge assumptions of the larger culture.  
  • And they all teach a set of practices one can learn which will lead to transformation of our core relationships.

These three core principles are aspects of what local congregations offer when they are most vital.  What few if any of these other programs offer is a sense of durable community with other practitioners of the method.  This is something the local congregation is able to provide if it sees itself as a source for learning about building healthy relationships.


Paradoxically, the best place to work to create healthy relationships is at the point where the relationship is weakest.  When we repair a damaged relationship it becomes stronger and healthier than it was before the damage occurred.  We experience healing and forgiveness in our relationships all the time, but sometimes a conflict arises that seems too big and we flinch and pull back and allow the issue to remain unaddressed and thus unresolved.

Some will argue that there are conflicts which just can't be resolved.  If by resolution we mean that everyone agrees then, no, not all conflicts can be resolved.  But if by resolution we mean that all can come to a perspective from which they can work together to meet everyone's needs, then all conflicts can be resolved.  This is hard work.  This is holy work.

This class is an eight-week introduction to the tools of Creative Conflict Resolution.  The tools you will gain will help you to resolve your personal conflicts and will help you know how to position yourself to support others in addressing their own.  By this your relationships will become more safe and satisfying...develop greater depth and durability.


The fee for the course is $250.  If you want to take the training but find the cost prohibitive, talk to me.  We will find a way to make it work.

"Mark's insights and practical, applicable advice for recognizing Patterns of Conflict through personal reflection and study have proved inestimably helpful for my professional and personal relationships. In 2010, I pursued a weekly course of study under his leadership for three months, along with six clergy colleagues. The simplicity of the instruction directed each of us to our own peaceful center, then directed us in specific, healthy ways of examining significant relationships and conflicts there. Each of us was able to report improvements in our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, parishioners, and ourselves, as a result of those sessions. I found myself even carrying forward some of his insights into sermons, and hearing from parishioners how liberating they found the perspectives. I recommend Mark and the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution without reservation!"

Rev. Dave Denoon, First Congregational Church, UCC, Webster Groves, MO April 6, 2011

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