Parker Palmer on Conflict

Last week I posted about Iowa Friend Judy Brutz and her landmark research about and for Friends and our relationship to domestic violence in the 1980s. As a follow up to that I wanted to share a resource my husband came across some years ago that has been profoundly helpful to how we think about conflict and abuse and what role a community of Friends might have in addressing either.

Portland Meeting, in Maine, was rocked by interpersonal conflict and abuse allegations for a period of years in the 1990s. In response to the expressed needs of the meeting community, and to the spiritual damage that unresolved conflict and unaddressed abuse unleashes on any community, four Friends undertook to write a series of advices under the care of their Ministry and Counsel Committee and Pastoral Oversight Committee. These were adopted by the community in 1997.

You can find a copy of the guidelines, as expanded and expressed by Vancouver Monthly Meeting, attached below. These are helpful as a way of sharing the advices with your own Meeting community. Also attached is a Pastoral Care Newsletter from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1999 which tells the history of these advices in some detail.

Query: Does our Meeting care for Friends during times of serious conflict and abuse? Are we curious about the experiences of Friends who may be in conflict or situations of abuse that involve other Friends, as well as others outside of Meeting? How does our Peace Testimony contribute to our response? Do we use our resources to prioritize pastoral care for those in conflict or who may be suffering from abuse? Do we recognize the difference between conflict and abuse and remain open to the possibility of either in our community?

Go Deeper

To read the text of PYM’s Pastoral Care Newsletter from 1999 which tells the history of these advices please go to:

For a copy of Vancouver Monthly Meetings full set of advices, please find them at Conflict-Resolution-Guidelines-Vancouver-MM

Friends Journal has featured several essays over the years on addressing both conflict and abuse in our meetings. Among them are this story, of a meeting’s response to childhood sexual abuse and this series of essays found under the tag “conflict resolution”. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s