Church Mediation | PhloxADR

By DANA RIMINGTON, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

“When there is a dispute involving divorce or family matters, labor management or public issues, most people turn to the courts to help solve their problems. However, the use of mediation is increasing in popularity.

Local religious leaders met recently to learn about what mediation entailed and how it can help their congregations.

Nancy McGahey, Executive Director and Mediator with Utah Dispute Resolution, said many people still aren’t familiar with the mediation process.

“In our country, we’ve really looked to the court system as our method and process for resolving disputes, but we’ve seen over the years peace movements influenced by Gandhi, Quakers, Mennonites, Buddhist, and other faith communities who are looking at alternative ways to resolve disputes outside of the court system. So we are seeing mediation really explode in recent decades,” McGahey said.

“Historically, the litigation system is set up to be adversarial with a winner and a loser and parties have no control over the decision, but with different levels of mediation, parties have more control over the decision,” she said.”

The author goes on to say…

“Mediation involves using an impartial third party who facilities communication. The mediator is not a decision maker, nor do they offer advice, McGahey said. The mediator facilitates communication between the parties and guides them through the problem-solving effort.”

Reverend Shelley Page of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden said learning about the mediation process will be valuable for her congregation.

“As I talk with families and couples about personal challenges, sometimes I need to refer them to other experts, and knowing about mediation options is another arrow in my quiver so I can help in a meaningful way,” Page said. “Sometimes legal proceedings are not where you want to be going and we want to see if there are other ways of addressing issues first.”

“Mediation sounds like an opportunity that honors our inherent worth and dignity of all parties and brings compassion into the picture, which ties into our faith principles,” she said.

McGahey said mediation is finally gaining more traction in the state with Utah courts often ordering mediation for contested divorces. “Judges want to get families into mediation rather than ordering them from the bench in order to give families the opportunity to make their own resolutions,” McGahey said.”

The article concludes…

“Travis Marker, a local attorney and mediator in Ogden, said mediation is also a financially prudent option for people, but often the suggestion scares people because they are unsure how the process works.

“There is still an education gap. A lot of people don’t get it or trust it,” Marker said, who often refers people to mediation services when they call to ask about hiring a lawyer. “It doesn’t mean it won’t be uncomfortable, or not having to work through things, but usually issues can be resolved through mediation.””

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