Rev. Debra (Deb) Benedum
Location: Greenfield Christ UMC
Deb states: "When there is conflict within a congregational system, and people are experiencing anger and hurt, it is my hope that through the process of conflict transformation, we can begin to help them start down the road toward healing and wholeness, so that they can once again begin to function as a healthy and productive body of Christ, all the while knowing that God is alive and in their midst, walking on this journey with them."

Deb has had the opportunity to study with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in the areas of conflict mediation, Family Process, Bowen Theory, and church conflict, in addition to training with the team. She has led church interventions with several churches in very difficult situations.

Rev. Jim Cotter
Location: Columbus United Methodist Church
Jim is the coordinator of the Conflict Transformation Team (since 2007). He has a deep desire to follow Christ's call to be a peacemaker, and is committed to team process. His skills with listening and creative thinking help him in this work. Jim supports the team's stated purpose: to create a safe sacred space and healing environment where people can work with the feelings of hurt, tension and disharmony found in conflict, so that transformation, and reconciliation might occur.

Jim has had training in Conflict Transformation with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center; Kathy Germann & Vida Grohmann; Susan Nienaber, Tom Porter and Stephanie Hixon of JustPeace, and training in non-defensive communication with Sharon Strand Ellison. He has written the lesson plans for the Team's one-hour truth-telling workshop. Jim has had conversation with 29 churches/church leaders about their conflict situations, and has been part of five church interventions.

Rev. Frank Gaylord
Location: Madison, WI
Frank states: "I was instrumental in beginning this ministry in our conference. I have learned that very often conflict is on the very edge of something new, creative, healthy and productive. The issue is how to deal in a positive way with conflict when it appears. Far too many churches never do anything about conflict and become paralyzed in their mission. I find great satisfaction in helping congregations move beyond that which is holding them back so they can be a positive witness to the love we have come to know in Jesus Christ."

"I have worked with more than 25 congregations in Wisconsin helping them to transform their conflict into something healthy and life-giving. Not all these interventions have been "successful". Sometimes congregations are not ready to be open and honest or are not willing to risk change. But for the most part, I believe I have been a part of several teams that have facilitated true transformation."

Frank was originally trained at a week-long Conflict Transformation Seminar led by JustPeace. Since that experience nine plus years ago he has met regularly with our conflict transformation team, participated in workshops at University of Wisconsin and in retreat/seminars sponsored by the Conference Team.

Rev. Jane Haass
Location: Mayville United Methodist Church
Jane says: "In my 35 years of pastoral ministry I've seen more and more conflict in our churches. People seem less accepting of others beliefs, less willing to compromise and so often put their own needs and wants before others. It is so sad to see so much pain and hurt in our churches."

"I want to be a part of a team which can help churches have open and honest communication, respect each other and love one another. And most of all to believe that the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit can bring healing, wholeness, joy and peace to our churches."

Jane brings a calm Christian presence to difficult situations. She has been a member of the Conflict Transformation Team since 2010. She had training with Kathy German and Vida Grohmann with U.W. Extension, plus training in non-defensive communication with Sharon Strand Ellison. She also attended the retreat led by Jim Wells on Living Your Strengths, and has ¼ credit of Clinical pastoral Education from St. Luke's Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Rev. George J. Kafer
Location: Grace UMC, Wautoma
George states: "Over my years in the church as both a lay person and now serving as clergy I have witnessed that often the ways Christians engage in conflict are no different than those of the world, with anger, bitterness, vengeance, and the like. It's sad that some of the meanest things I have seen people say or do have been by those who claim the name Christian. When this happens it hurts the experience of living by God's kingdom values and it hurts our greater witness in the world. I am passionate about conflict transformation because I want to see the church act as the church. I want to see all God's people learn to treat one another with love and respect, engaging in conflict in a way that is informed by who we are: disciples of Jesus Christ."

"As a Pastor I have had numerous opportunities to help individuals and groups within the churches I have served work through conflict and grow in their ability to do so in ways consistent with the Christian values Scripture calls us to embody. As a member of the Conflict Transformation Team I have also been involved with a church intervention."

George has had training with Susan Beaumont, Kathy Germann, Sharon Ellison, and Susan Nienaber in ways that relate to conflict in churches, as well as training with the Conflict Transformation Team.

Rev. Mark Klaisner
Location: St. James United Methodist Church, Appleton, WI
Mark states: "I have served as a pastor to the United Methodist Church in Wisconsin for 23 years, as well as serving a year and a half from 1986-87 in Belfast, Northern Ireland in children's and youth ministry. Today I serve as the pastor to St. James UMC of Appleton. I'm blessed with a beautiful wife Connie and two young daughters: Claire and Sydney. Ministries in conflict resolution have been a passion of mine since serving in the Methodist Youth Department of the Irish Methodist Church. I am currently serving as a conference delegate to the sister church relationship we have with the Dungboo Conference in South Korea."

Mark has a history of bringing healing to divided churches. His patience and warmth help to defuse difficult situations. He has participated in training through the Conflict Transformation Team.

Rev. Gloria E. Miranda
Location: United Methodist Church, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Gloria says: "The reason for my passion for conflict transformation; putting peace where there is no peace. We are called to be the carriers of peace when in time of conflict because in Peace Jesus has called us. This is why I have the passion to put peace in conflicts and restore anything that needs restoring."

"My experience in conflict transformation is first of all, putting it all in God's hands to asking for direction and wisdom to be able to resolve the conflict gracefully. My major experience is restoring Marriages. One of my experiences was a marriage that was going for a divorce and Jesus our Lord gave me words to restore this marriage. It was restored and now they have a happy life serving the Lord and are leaders in my congregation with the grace of GOD.J This is the gift that God has given me. I counsel many people and have many wonderful outcomes and blessings. Anyone who has conflicts, usually comes to me and thank Jesus I can resolve the conflict."

Rev. Nancy Moffatt
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Nancy states: "I have seen how destructive conflict within a congregation can be: it can derail a congregation's efforts at ministry and mission; it can devastate people's belief in the church, and sometimes, in God. I've also seen what happens in congregations when the conflict goes 'underground' and resurfaces when a new pastor is appointed. . . over and over again. Identifying conflictual patterns in congregations that transcend the current situation can help a congregation address long-standing patterns of behavior that are not life-giving. The earlier a conflictual situation is addressed, the less likely severe damage is done."

"As a pastor, I learned from mentors how to address conflict in congregations and how to work with 'difficult' people. As a District Superintendent, I coached many pastors and SPRC's through conflictual situations. Sometimes I was 'successful'; sometimes I wasn't."

In 2003, Nancy attended the week-long Conflict Resolution Training hosted by the General Church of the UMC. Prior to her M.Div, she completed a Master's in Counseling and learned skills through that program that are applicable to addressing conflict.

Rev. Peter Peterson
Location: Gethsemane UMC, Pewaukee, Wisconsin
Pete states: "Too many of our congregations have turned to uncivil behavior in the handling of conflicts. Where honest and open communication is to take place there is anonymous communication. Where we should deal with clear opinions and facts, there are rumors. These are problems we should and can do something about."

Experience in conflict transformation:

  • Served on the Conflict Transformation Team since its inception. Involved in conflict issues in churches of various sizes and needs.
  • Appointed to two churches in times of conflict which turned into long term pastorates.
  • As United States Navy Chaplain appointed as mediator in interdepartmental crises at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Pete has had training in conflict transformation through the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, with Sharon Ellison, as well as other seminars and continuing education in conflict transformation.

Rev. Kathy Reid
Location: Arlington/North Windsor UM Churches
Kathy states: "Conflict is a natural part of being human, and of being in relationship -- in our families, in the workplace, as well as in the church. Many of us have experienced conflict as destructive and deal with conflict with defensiveness and anger. My passion for conflict transformation comes from my belief that conflict can be creative and constructive , and my belief that Jesus' ministry in the world was and continues to be about God's invitation to all of us to be transformed. By learning and practicing constructive ways of dealing with conflict, transformation can happen."

Kathy, as a pastoral psychotherapist and pastor for 23 years, has worked with individuals, couples, families, and congregations, helping them reframe the way they communicate and deal with conflict. She has served as interim minister with conflicted congregations. She has also taught classes on communication and on conflict transformation.

Kathy completed a 2 year residency in pastoral psychotherapy and marriage and family counseling, which included in-depth education and training in Bowenian family systems theory. She has also had training in effective communication skills, including listening for understanding. She has also attended training events in conflict transformation including Sharon Ellison's "Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-defensive Communication."

Rev. Paul Yoder
Location: Markesan United Methodist Church
Paul believes that conflict is constantly in and around us as a result of our human nature. He believes God wants our passions channeled in ways that serve God and the church rather than to serve personal agendas, needs or desires or result in bringing harm to the Body of Christ.

Paul states: "I began my life after college in the corporate world where I was in various management roles, even serving as part of management in union grievance and contract negotiations. There were constant employee conflicts and the need at times to correct and/or redirect people in their work. I learned it was best to confront and resolve potential conflicts in their infancy. After coming into full-time ministry, I found myself being sought out and brought into other churches to help resolve conflicts."

Paul has attended classes on "Taking the War out of our Words" and "Discovering our Strengths" and other training through the Conflict Transformation Team.