The last Conflict Resilience workshop of 2013 was the most successful and well-attended workshop in the programme to date. The tent was packed with eager faces wanting to get practical about conflict resilience, what this involves in a current setting, and which tools can help on the journey to achieving it within faith communities.

A number of representatives from the Organising Committee gave snapshot examples of tools that could be applied in faith groups going through conflict. Zaza presented a vibrant volcano diagram as a visual representation of a conflict. This is an incredibly effective tool for illustrating the complexities of conflict. The underlying needs are represented below the eruption, and the results of feelings directly expressed are illustrated through the eruption itself. This shows that many of the causes and reasons behind a conflict can be complex and unseen, and need to be unpacked carefully and sensitively based on the specific context.

Zaza also presented on the ‘Traffic Light’ model for communication during conflict. Red is used to express a desire for the action to stop. Next is amber- to highlight common ground, and the positive factors in the relationship or the person; this can include complements or praise for certain aspects of the relationship. Finally, green can be used to suggest constructive ways of moving forward and working with the dynamics of conflict to see transformation.

Justine presented on the Conflict Coaching model used at St. Ethelburga’s, focusing on an exploration of conflict through the lenses of identity, power and emotion. This is ideal for one-to-one coaching, but can be applied to larger group dynamics as seen by individual members of a faith community. St. Ethelburga’s will be running two 3-day courses on this model in February and June. See our events pages for more details.

Lia finished the whistle stop tour of practical tools with a number of visual aids that can be used when analysing or describing a conflict. This exercise included asking each participant to select an item they had on them, for example a pen or comb, and thinking how this object could describe or exemplify a current personal conflict. The last visual tool was a map. Participants were presented with an outline of a map and asked to envisage their conflict placed within is. This included what certain aspects, figures or objects could represent, where they saw themselves placed within it, and which other aspects of the broader conflict they could relate to in the picture.

These visual tools were some of the most eye-opening parts of the afternoon, and encouraged attendees to see their personal conflicts in a different way. This approach can be particularly useful for those who find it difficult to describe or explain their conflict with words alone, and the tools can encourage a unique perspective on events.

The workshop was full of an energy and a spirit of optimism regarding practical tools and they can be harnessed to promote conflict resilience within faith communities. Coming together in the tent in dialogue serves as a step for many faith community members in seeing conflict as a natural and everyday part of all faith groups. The sources of conflict are often similar, and St. Ethelburga’s aims to show participants they do not have to experience this alone without support and a space to share concerns. Rather, one can see the potential for broader change and transformation within the experience of conflict.

The workshop showed that the need for tools and practical guidance with faith communities must be addressed in 2014. The Conflict Resilience Programme, and the tent, is in an ideal position to help fulfil this aim. This workshop was not sufficient in isolation, and enthusiasm was expressed for a Peer Learning Group that can convene consistently and form the backbone of the programme in the New Year.

2014 promises to be another exciting step on the conflict resilience path- looking forward to seeing lots of you at one of our events in the New Year!

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