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HANDLING HOLY WARS

A veteran mediator shows how even within a church, swords can be turned into plowshares.

One Sunday evening, Good Shepherd Church was conducting its twice-yearly congregational meeting. Discussion was calm; a few nodding heads certified no hot issues were on the agenda.

Then, toward the end of the meeting, someone noted the music committee had asked for a 20 percent increase in budget. "What does this involve?" he asked.

The chairman of the music committee politely explained that the two part-time staff persons were overworked, and thus the committee had decided to hire a part-time director for the junior choir.

Immediately two people jumped to their feet. "Who authorized the music committee to increase the staff?" they demanded. People in the pews visibly stiffened. Two couples slipped out the back exit.

A member of the music committee angrily defended the proposal, in the process saying, "This congregation exploits the gifts of musicians!" and accusing several individuals of deliberately attempting to destroy "the finest church music program in this town."

Though this explosion ...

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