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Recommendation from Columbia UCC

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July 30, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

Rev. Mark Robinson worked with Columbia UCC congregants in 2008, at the recommendation of Rev. Dale Parson, Western Association Conference Minister.

Mark came to us at an incredibly fragile time in our congregation. Our pastor of two years had abruptly resigned and there were many conflicts arising.

I found Mark to be incredibly personal as I corresponded with him. He was also very prompt to answer any e-mail or phone call that I made. He gave me the reassurance I needed as Council President to carry on and lead the congregation towards healing.

Mark also provided pulpit supply for us in September prior to his consultation work with CUCC. His sermon was simply outstanding. He had not worshipped with us at all, but he seemed to intuitively know what the congregation needed to hear to move towards spiritual healing. I made copies of his sermon, and circulated those amongst my Council and other members who I felt would benefit from his message.

Following that powerful sermon, Mark led us through several workshops that helped us, as congregants, learn how to positively manage conflict as it naturally arises in the life of CUCC.

Finally, I want to offer our heartiest thanks to Mark for a job well done with Columbia UCC. He was the hope we had been waiting for, and helped begin the healing process for a wounded congregation.


Judi Privitt

CUCC 2008 Church Council President

Recommendation from UCC church

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July 12, 2009

Re: Evaluation of ministry of Mark Robinson

To the Committee on Ministry - St. Louis Association:

Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on the Rev. Mark Robinson's ministry as we related to one another in several settings.

At the encouragement of the Committee on Ministry I asked Mark to facilitate a conversation at our United Church of Christ around the issues of Gay/Lesbian, Marriage Equality and the presence of a transgendered member in our congregation.

Mark and I met, over lunch and he heard my concerns about my ministry here and what I saw happening at our church. Mark was thoughtful, supportive, and understanding offering different perspectives and ways I might manage the conflicts. He also agreed to facilitate our forum.

Mark was respectful and led the participants to be so as the members of the congregation expressed intense feelings and opposing opinions; he summarized each person's statement and noted it on newsprint. After each had commented he drew our comments together and made suggestions for further action. We followed up on several of the recommendations that came out of the meeting. It was a good process and has seemed to have helped this congregation move on from the tension of issues around sexual orientation and General Synod. Everyone felt heard, taken seriously and cared for.

Mark attended a Church Council Meeting several weeks later. He named in generalities some of the underlying issues that have made my ministry in this congregation difficult. He did some teaching on conflict resolution. Unfortunately Council did not accept his offer to work with us. Mark and I have met several times one on one and he has continued to be encouraging suggesting strategies I might try. He and I spoke at length during the weeks when I audited his class at Eden Seminary.

Mark taught a January Interim class on "Creative Conflict Resolution" . That class continues to be instrumental in my ministry. I refer to my notes from time to time, use my learnings to curb the effects of potential conflicts and to help me and others to navigate through inevitable conflict.

I have copied here the class evaluation I wrote for the seminary.

I appreciated the Conflict Resolution Class as I learned new tools to respond to conflict in the church. The texts we used came at the information in different ways, one speaking to developmental stages and how they impact relationships and conflict; one speaking to the way we as leaders communicate in the corporate (church) world and one which looked even more closely at how we can communicate using non-violent language.

We were privileged to also receive copies of Mark's workshop material on Healthy Relationships. This material helped us look at how we abuse (often unintentionally) within our own relationships and how to deal with abuse and create shalom. The intersection of these texts with class discussion has caused me to consider new ways of doing pastoral care and working with conflict in my congregation and personal life.

Mark was able throughout the class to address each student where they were, helping each one with our particular conflicts whether those conflicts surfaced in church, contextual ed settings, family life or within the individual. He modeled "an ongoing regard" for each member of the class.

Mark also listened to the needs of class members... so he quickly incorporated into our class an opportunity for meditation helping us to focus ourselves and prepare for class content.

I have experienced Mark's faith in God and his belief that God wills for us shalom. He works at reminding us that all conflict can be resolved (a theological assertion for him). His ministry and support has enabled me to cope with the challenges I have faced. I have appreciated Mark's ministry to me, in my congregation and at the seminary. He offers a unique and valuable ministry to the pastors and churches of our Association. I value our collegial relationship, his ministry, insights and perspectives.

God's peace,

Rev. pastor

local United Church of Christ