Russell McLArty 01 Dec 2016
Why are you involved with Place for Hope?
When I was in the early days of my ministry I encountered bullying behaviour within the leadership team of the church, and actively sought mediation. I was more than disappointed to be told that I would just need to sort things out myself, particularly as it had taken a lot of courage to approach someone for help. It has always seemed to me that Jesus intended us to have good relationships with family, friends, neighbours and even enemies yet churches didn’t take this seriously enough. The conference on conflict in the church in Aviemore in 2009 and the setting up of Place for Hope were very encouraging for me and I wanted to be a part of this new approach.
What do you enjoy about being a Place for Hope Team Member?
From the very start Place for Hope has been committed to providing the very best training for its volunteers. This has been so very helpful not just in Place for Hope interventions but also in my work as a minister where the insight and experience has allowed me to offer less conflicted ways of operating in so many situations. The skills and confidence gained in working in some very challenging situations have all made me a much more effective leader. Further to that, team members are offered support and supervision during and after Place for Hope work with some of the most experienced and skilled mediators in Scotland. In all of this there is a clear commitment to quality and development of volunteers. This in itself is payment enough not to mention the satisfaction in seeing resolution of difficult situations.
What developments do you see in Place for Hope?
Quite apart from being involved in helping people working through conflict it has been really good to be part of delivering training on awareness of conflict. We hope that more serious conflict may be avoided where church leaders gain understanding and practice new ways of working with groups. I well remember someone saying at the setting up of Place for Hope that in working with local groups across the country we might be establishing many places where people dealt well with conflict and could themselves offer places for hope for their local communities. That must still be our vision as we recruit more volunteers.