Seminary short course offers congregations tools for engaging conflict

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Betty Pries, a conflict management specialist based in Waterloo, Ont., leads an online short course of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary as a sessional faculty member. (Photo courtesy of BettyPries.ca)

Betty Pries, a conflict management specialist based in Waterloo, Ont., provides mediation, coaching and consulting services for businesses, nonprofit organizations, governments and congregations. For six weeks each year, she also leads an online short course of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) as a sessional faculty member.

In Transforming Congregational Conflict and Communication, Pries and her students draw on biblical, theological, practical and spiritual sources in examining difficult experiences that pastors and lay leaders encounter while in ministry. While conflict can be painful, Pries teaches that courageously engaging in differences within congregational life builds congregational cultures that nurture the tender balance between honesty and kindness, which, in turn, generates faithfulness and joy.

“We explore models to help us understand conflict more clearly and reflect on how we can meaningfully engage the conflicts in which we’re involved,” Pries says. “We also explore how Christian spirituality offers a unique foundation that deepens and strengthens the models found in conflict-transformation theory.”

A chartered mediator, Pries has worked with conflict transformation, congregational renewal and organizational change since 1993, both nationally and internationally. She received much of her early training, including a diploma in mediation, through Mediation Services in Winnipeg. In addition, she holds several theology degrees, which help to ground her work with congregations.

Pries, who notes that differences are a natural and necessary part of human life, says she enjoys meeting with people who are sorting out together “what it means to live faithfully amidst the complex reality of human relationships.” 

“None of us is perfect at managing conflict,” she says. “This makes the course a wonderful meeting ground where each of us is on a learning journey.”

Call for volunteers

While AMBS is known for its master of divinity and master of arts degree programs, the seminary has also offered online short courses since 2012. These six-week discussion-based courses offer participants an opportunity to deepen their understanding of Anabaptist history, thought and witness, as a source of inspiration and guidance for daily life and ministry.

Pries’s short course will be offered from April 15 to May 26, 2020.

Other AMBS short courses include Understanding Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture: What’s Different and Why?, with Loren Johns; Exploring Peace and Justice in the Bible, with Safwat Marzouk and Drew Strait; and Exploring Anabaptist History and Theology, with Jamie Pitts. 

To learn more, visit ambs.edu/shortcourses.

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Betty Pries, a conflict management specialist based in Waterloo, Ont., leads an online short course of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary as a sessional faculty member. (Photo courtesy of BettyPries.ca)

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