WUU Committee for Right Relations User Guide

WUU Committee for Right Relations User Guide

WHAT IS THE CCR?

The members of the WUU established a special “committee of the congregation” on January 2008 at a congregational meeting. They amended the WUU bylaws accordingly, and elected the first three members to sit on the initial committee over staggered three-year terms. The CRR is the product of three years of study by an ad hoc committee of the Board charged with preparation of a plan to implement the church’s Covenant of Right Relations, which had been adopted in May 2005.  The CRR will function to bring the principles of the CORR to life within the body of the church, respond to grievances, conflicts, or church-life concerns brought to it by any person associated with the congregation, provide direction on procedures for activating church-wide discussions/meetings, provide referral to outside professional help and support to individuals or parties-in conflict, including services of the UUA and District offices, provide mediation services by members of the CRR or other consultants.

WHO SITS ON THE CRR?

The current membership of the CRR is posted on the main CRR web page.  Routine replacement elections for one new member will occur at each annual meeting of the church in May, with annual nominees to be slated from the nominating committee or put forth from the floor.  Unplanned vacancies can be filled until the next annual meeting by the Board.

HOW ARE CRR MEMBERS SELECTED?

The bylaws stipulate that any member of the church with “wisdom and/or experience with” conflict resolution may be considered for election to the CRR.  The members of the initial CRR all came from the ad hoc committee which had prepared recommendations for implementing the CORR.

WHEN AND HOW WILL THE CRR BECOME INVOLVED?

The CRR is conceptualized as having an educational and facilitative role in helping all persons associated with the congregation to identify and manage conflicts with their own resources and talents.  “Grass roots” resolutions should be tried first.

Even before any appreciable conflict arises the CRR will be a “go-to” resource for ventilation of dissatisfactions, information, referral, everyday suggestions for keeping our community in harmony.  The CRR will keep the congregation reminded about and attentive to the CORR, and might offer training, education and consultation in conflict resolution skill building.

At LOW levels of conflict or grievance, examples of appropriate issues to
bring to the CRR for guidance might be:
-unhappiness with quality of housekeeping or grounds maintenance
-dissatisfaction with worship schedules and formats, or RE curricula
-minor offense with another congregant’s manners within the sanctuary
-disagreement or upset about a sermon or worship element

At LOW levels of church conflict the CRR might offer a person associated with the congregation:
-direction to the appropriate person or cluster chair in charge of the matter
-a somewhat trained and neutral ear to think/talk the matter through
-advice about ways the complainant might approach the “offender” to
have a productive “difficult conversation”
-access to resource materials to learn more about the issues

At MIDDLE levels of conflict of grievance examples of appropriate
issues to bring to the CRR for guidance or intervention might be:
-objection to the practices or lessons of an RE teacher to your child
-strongly hurt feelings arising from conflict with a fellow congregant
-objections to decisions, structures or rulings from church governance
-emerging dissatisfaction with one of the ministries of the church

At MIDDLE levels of church conflict the CRR might offer a person associated with the congregation:
-strategy options about simple conflict resolution techniques and styles
-referral to church bodies/ministers who might need to become involved
-offering to arrange a meeting between complainant and “offender,”
with or without a CRR person present
-help with composing letters of complaint or grievance

At HIGH levels of conflict or grievance examples of appropriate issues to
bring to the CRR for help in correcting or resolving might be:
-interpersonal conflict that has risen to the level of acrimony/bitterness
-church conflicts that are becoming divisive in group or faction terms
-personal feeling of woundedness or breach in relations within the body
-conflicts/tensions/schisms which “can’t be talked about” any more

At HIGH levels of church conflict the CRR might offer a person associated with the congregation:
-direction on procedures for activating church-wide discussions/meetings
-referral to outside professional help and support to individuals or parties
in conflict, of services of the UUA and District offices
-mediation services by members of the CRR or other consultants

WHAT MATTERS ARE BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THE CRR

Since the concept is to keep responsibility for living out the CORR in the hands of the congregation at the “grass roots” level, there are some matters of tension, housekeeping and irritation within the church community that the CRR will just give back to the complainant or the parties in conflict to address by their own resources, hopefully guided by the CORR.
At the other extreme of conflict the CRR will not involve itself in matters of significant dissatisfaction or alleged breach of contract between the ministers and the congregation.

A mechanism exists for dealing with such issues in the “Ministers Letter of Agreement,” and there is UUA protocol. In other areas the degree and complexity of conflict may be beyond the competence of the CRR, and so will be referred on to the Board or the Minister(s). The CRR will not be involved in personnel decisions, disputes and judgments made by the Board. Further, matters which arouse suspicions of child or elder abuse will have to be referred to community agencies for inquiry and handling. Finally, the CRR will not be involved in matters under investigation by law enforcement or in litigation. On a case by case basis any member of the CRR may be asked to recuse him/herself from a particular matter in which their participation would be inappropriate.

WHAT ABOUT CONFIDENTIALITY?

The CRR will make all reasonable efforts to guard the confidentiality of parties to its work, to disguise personal identities in records of its proceedings, and to keep its internal deliberations private. Nonetheless there will be exceptions when confidentiality cannot be offered or maintained, or might inadvertently be breached. The minutes and records of CRR work will open to inspection by any church member, even though names and identities will be coded or disguised. See “confidentiality statement” handout for further details.

HOW DO I BRING A MATTER BEFORE THE CRR?

Take time to re-read the Covenant, Charter, and Confidentiality Statement, in addition to this User Guide, for guidance first.  You will find these documents on the website.  Then, if necessary, fill out a Petition to Engage the Committee for Right Relations.  You can submit the petition electronically on Survey Monkey using this link:

Petition to Engage the Committee for Right Relations

You will find physical copies of the petition in the Narthex.  You may turn those completed forms in to the office.  Both methods will bring your issue to the whole committee.  A member from the committee will contact you shortly with a response or plan for follow up.  If you have any questions, you may email crr@wuu.org.