Unity Matters Works to Resolve, Transform Conflict

Date Posted: 1/10/2011

All pastors deal with conflict but we must all remember to stay focused on the One we serve.” This is what Rev. Kathy Harrell says is important in her role as an extension minister at Unity Matters Corporation where she helps others work through a variety of difficult situations. Her ministry is focused on conflict resolution, conflict transformation, and teaching leaders to be effective at leading during times of stress and conflict within church, community, and organizational settings. Her passion is helping people learn to better manage conflict and work toward finding a resolution - ultimately transformation.


Rev. Harrell has been involved in mediation for over ten years. Certified by the state of Texas in both civil and family mediation since 2000, she says she has successfully settled each of the cases brought before her whether they were civil or divorce. Her doctorate work in ministry in parish leadership focuses on conflict resolution and transformation, and, along with having attended the Lombard mediation center and being skilled in legal mediation, Rev. Harrell has developed her own style of mediation. She describes it as being, "far less lengthy and drawn out, and highly more effective. It leaves the clients/organizations more unified, and is considerably less costly, monetarily and emotionally." 


“All churches have experienced conflict at some level,” Harrell says, adding that “If conflict gets in the way of doing the work of the Lord, that church is then basically non-productive in its ability to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."  Her program for "Unity in the Church" works toward the goals of unity, stability, building qualified leaders of the church, and leading others to Christ. Conflict resolution within a church setting is centered around conducting interventions and mediations. “Conflict transformation takes conflict resolution to an entirely different level of effectiveness in conflictual church, community, or organizational settings," Harrell said, referencing her seminar "Unity in the Church/Unity in Community.”


Harrell noted in every case, the churches she has worked with, “Communications were opened, respect for pastors has grown, and church leaders are more able to stand strong. They are excited and feel qualified in the jobs that they perform. They definitely enjoy becoming more spiritually unified,” Harrell said. “Both clergy and laity alike become more united, learn how to lead in the midst of conflict, and learn how to conduct meetings with techniques that help in productiveness, effectiveness, and, during the process, help to eliminate the possibility of conflict destroying the productivity of the meeting.” 


Harrell added that the churches and communities which have participated in "Unity in the Church" ("Unity in Community") have also developed a keener awareness of how important it is to support clergy and leadership as well as the importance of their role as leaders in helping to build a stronger and more unified church/community.”  


Unity Matters is also referred cases by judges within the court system for both civil and divorce cases.


In the mediation cases presented to Rev. Harrell by the court system, her husband Jim Harrell, VP of Unity Matters, plays an active part of the mediation process where financial aspects are involved. “Jim's background in finance and accounting serves the mediation process well,” Harrell said. “Typically in a mediation process one of the parties represented does not feel as strong in their understanding of financial matters, especially in a divorce situation. Jim's ability to understand the financial aspects of each case enables him to ease our clients’ fears and present a clear understanding of the very best financial outcomes."


“We try to do our very best and honor our clients and respect for feelings, their position in life and respect for their future,” she said, adding: “At Unity Matters, All unity matters.”


One of their ministerial goals is to have pastors refer parishioners from within their congregations or communities who are going through lengthy and difficult situations and who need help in resolving conflict. “In all cases, court ordered mediations for family and civil matters are resolved in one to two days,” she said. “We invite those going through this process to Unity Matters Center to enjoy the hospitality and peaceful setting during the mediation process, however, we are able to travel if our clients request our services at another location.” 


Unity Matters Center is located in a secluded area outside of Chappell Hill, Texas which is about an hour North West of Houston on Hwy 290. The setting was designed to focus on hospitality, peace, and tranquility. “It looks like a bed and breakfast – very comfortable – very peaceful…” Harrell added.


The center includes a conference room, dining areas, and smaller break out rooms or caucus rooms that are also functional within their home setting - that being a den, art gallery, music room, library, and living room. There are many outdoor areas for attendees to use as well, including front porch rocking chairs, deck, spiritual garden, benches, and a large round table and chairs on the terrace. 


Harrell describes Unity Matters Center as being “rich with imagery,” noting that they emphasize specific Biblical themes throughout the center, including the garden areas.


“A bench near the cross-shaped herb garden invites visitors to sit and meditate in the fragrance of the lovely herbs.”  Harrell says, "for me this icon symbolizes how Mary came to Jesus' tomb after His death with fresh herbs to prepare the body of Christ."


Going out from the cross-shaped herb garden, gnomes are specifically placed two by two symbolizing Mark's gospel text, 6:7, "Calling the Twelve to Him, He sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits."  Thus going out and "Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."    


You can learn more about Rev. Harrell and the ministry of Unity Matters by contacting her at: revharrell@unitymatters.org or by phone at 979-836-8815.


Visit their website at: http://www.unitymatters.org/