There are times in the life of every meeting when our differences create conflict. In fact, if we are an inclusive and welcoming community, meetings should experience conflict quite regularly. Yet Friends are very often challenged to demonstrate the loving concern we have for one another by facing our differences squarely.
Responsibility for addressing conflicts in meeting is usually the charge of the oversight and/or care and counsel committee, those Friends providing pastoral care to meeting members. The dilemma of whether or not to confront a conflict in the meeting is a difficult one: If we avoid the problem things could get worse; if we address it we could risk hurting someone in ways which were unintended and the relationship might suffer.
However, either approach could leave the meeting feeling split with Friends taking different sides on the issue. These situations, in turn, can lead to feelings of mistrust among meeting members and a loss of faith in Quaker process. For these reasons, addressing conflicts in ways which are grounded in Friends traditions and practices is vital. They foster unity and show us the way forward.
Creating a framework for reconciliation when differences arise should be the response of Friends to conflicts in their meeting. Yet, sometimes all such endeavors fail to bring disputing members together to work out a resolution and third party would be helpful in resolving the issue. In such cases, Friends are advised to seek help from other sources including the Yearly Meeting.