Author Archives: MSAC


By Mary Kay Turner

Respect and good communication, which includes listening as well as talking, are essential in healthy relationships. Fear, hate and anger are obstacles to healthy relationships and good communication. Bullying happens when one person or group shows disrespect or contempt for another person or group. Bullies speak, but they do not listen to or value other people.

Does bullying happen on a national scale? We all know that this primary season has been much different from anything before, as some people in the news have displayed disrespect and contempt for other people. We have heard name-calling, threats, talk of building a wall, deporting people, and banning people of certain cultures from entering the country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program provides curriculum materials to teach students about different groups of people. This knowledge helps students understand students who are different from them and learn to treat all students with respect.

In March 2016 Teaching Tolerance in a voluntary survey asked teachers, observing before and after the presidential campaign began, if they agreed with statements about increases in 1) anti-immigrant sentiment, 2) anti-Muslim sentiment, 3) uncivil political discourse at their schools, and 4) concerns by students about what might happen to them after the election. Responses here are from the publication “Teaching the 2016 Election” by Maureen B. Costello.

About 2,000 K-12 teachers across the country responded to questions about the effects of the rhetoric of the campaign on their students. More than 2/3 of the teachers reported that many students of color have expressed concerns about what might happen to them and their families after the election. More than 1/2 have seen an increase in uncivil political speech. Teachers are troubled by use of half-truths and lies in speeches. Passion for candidates and loss of rationality in discussions concern them. More than 1/3 have seen an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim incidents. Students are calling other students names, even the n-word. Students have told teachers that name-calling and “trash talk” aren’t bullying, just “telling it like it is.” Teachers report that gains from years of anti-bullying work have declined in a few months.

Educators reported: A kindergarten student fearfully asks every day if the wall is here yet. Young students wonder why people can hate them without even knowing them. One teacher in a diverse school wrote that her students feel that America hates them. Students are confused by seeing that certain campaigns are allowed to encourage racism, violence, anger and hate. Many teachers wrote, “It breaks my heart.”

Students are scared, dejected, and hurt. Some African-American middle school students fear for their safety after seeing Trump rallies on the news. Students fear that they will be deported and that other students hate them. In Ferguson, MO, 90% of the students are African-American, and some students wonder if all white people truly think what they are hearing.

What does it say to us and our students when some candidates and people campaigning display behavior that is not even acceptable for students in elementary schools? Where is the respect?


November is traditionally the month associated with being thankful. As families and friends join together on Thanksgiving, we still have much to be thankful for here in America. We have freedoms and rights and many advantages that people in other nations only dream about.   Many people in other lands do not have freedom of religion or the right to vote, let alone basic necessities such as food, clean water, and shelter.

While ours is not a perfect country, we do have systems in place to help those in need. In our own community, we have organizations such as Gettysburg Help, South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP), the Soup Kitchen, Ruth’s Harvest, and the Rescue Mission to help those in need. As members of the community, it rests on each of us who are more fortunate to lend a hand. And lend a hand, we do. One of the things I noticed when I moved to this area 2 ½ years ago is that the people of Adams County step up and help their fellow citizens by supporting any number of community organizations, supporting food drives and by volunteering. Another great example of support is the annual Giving Spree to be held on November 15th from 4-6:30PM at the Gettysburg Middle School. The Giving Spree offers each of us an opportunity to contribute to one of the many service organizations within Adams County.

However, holidays, even Thanksgiving, are often accompanied by stress. One way I have found to reduce stress associated with holidays is to write something I am thankful for each day. We can begin by being thankful for our faith, families, friends, our job, a good lunch, time spent with a friend, or just happy the sun is shining. Another way to express our thankfulness and improve relationships is to write something we are thankful for about a person or persons with whom we may have a strained relationship. Writing positive things about another person will help to lift our own spirits during the stressful times. Even if the only thing you think of at first is “I am thankful that Sally is organized” or “I am thankful that Pete always comes in on time”, it is a beginning. You will be surprised how much happier you will be doing these exercises each day. To add to our general well-being, we might want to follow Melchor Lim’s advice – “Talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems”.

Stress during the holidays often leads to family conflict. If we are unable to resolve the conflict on our own, there are low cost resources available to help us. Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) offers mediation, conflict coaching, anti-bullying and mediation training to assist members of our community. Don’t let holiday stress and conflict get you down. Look no further than MSAC as a resource to help you get through a conflict so you can fully enjoy your holidays.

Elly Cleaver is a retired Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, trainer, mediator, and a board member of Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC). If you would like more information about mediation and other services available, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County, 717-334-7312, on line, or check out the website,


Conflict Resolution Training

Conflict Resolution Training


January 29, 2016

Conflict Resolution Training Opportunity at Mediation Services of Adams County

A football team trains regularly to handle the pressure of a game situation. While the athletes may study tapes of their opponents to learn their strategies and tendencies, they cannot predict exactly what the other team will do in a game. Training helps a team to explore alternative plays so they understand how to act and to respond under pressure.

We all face pressure daily, some of which we cannot predict or prevent. Few pressures weigh more heavily on us than conflict with others. Sometimes the stress is easily and quickly handled. Other times, the problem continues day in and day out with no end on the horizon. The uncertainty of conclusion itself aggravates us. What do you do when you have tried everything you know to do and said everything that needs to be said?

Consider conflict resolution training. Classes taught by certified trainers guide the class through the different steps of conflict resolution, also called mediation. You will learn about different perspectives and conflict styles. One session teaches skills such as overcoming communication blocks or barriers, using listening skills and reframing statements for clarification.

Participants are taught to identify problems and mutual interests as well as how to evaluate problem-solving ideas. The classes also learn how to prepare a written agreement with specific, measurable steps for both sides of a dispute. Between the course sections are enjoyable and practical break out sessions and role-playing scenarios. Elly Cleaver, retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, will lead this year’s training.

When you complete the twenty-two hour course, you are a certified mediator. You will be surprised how often you use your negotiating skills in daily life. You will also have the option to volunteer your skills to Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC). As need arises, our intake coordinator contacts individuals on our mediation team to negotiate between parties that contact MSAC. We offer other opportunities to advance your negotiating skills through other training events.

Who would benefit from mediation training? Anyone involved in customer service, sales, management, teachers, volunteers in community service agencies and organizations, and local government officers would benefit especially. The conflict resolution principles also benefit couples and families. In short, if you deal with people daily, you would find great value in the training sessions. As a pastor, I would encourage church leaders at all levels to consider conflict resolution training. Peacemaking lies at the heart of church leadership, and training will equip you to bring peace to a situation in your ministry.

The next MSAC training classes will be held at Gettysburg College’s Glatfelter Hall on April 1 from 1-5 pm, April 2 from 9 am – 5 pm, April 8 from 1-5 pm, and April 9 from 9 am – 5 pm. A registration fee of $275 is due by March 18. We offer one $75 scholarship for each non-profit organization represented at the training. For further information, please visit us online or send an email to or call our helpline at (717) 334-7312.

Rev. Matthew Jury pastors Grace Bible Chapel in York Springs, PA and serves as a board member and certified mediator for MSAC.


Golden Opportunity in Mediation

Golden Opportunity in Conflict


Rev. Matthew Jury

September 2015

The Golden Opportunity in Conflict

Entrepreneurs Joe and Bill attend Rock Church. Both men occasionally do business with each other. Along the way, Joe refused to pay Bill for services rendered to the tune of several thousand dollars. Naturally, tensions rise between the men. Channels of communication close quickly. Before long, the two men sit on opposite sides of the church auditorium during worship services, pretending the other doesn’t even exist.

The problem festers, affecting the entire church. Some in the church refuse to take sides. Others throw themselves behind one or the other. The church leadership team says, “We’re not getting involved.” Ignoring the elephant in the room always creates more problems. Before long, the church finds itself divided over an issue it did not create.

Finally Joe stomps out of the church, taking some of his supporters with him, but the original problem remains unresolved. Both men sense disillusionment about church. Those who took sides lick wounds inflicted by others in the church family. Many wonder what happened to the church they love. The leadership team wonders what it could have done differently.

Conflicts arise everywhere, including at church. The author and apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote that churches should be distinctly different in the way they handle conflict. “It is in the midst of a difference that we have our golden opportunity,” writes Schaeffer. He further explains that there is nothing to see as long as the church meets in its “holy bundle.” Problems become a golden opportunity to show how the church ought to be different. Handling problems with Christian love reflects integrity of faith and practice.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5.17-19 that Christ became The Mediator, setting the pattern of mediation and giving us the responsibility to mediate. The church stands simultaneously as a witness and a symbol of mediation. Worshippers gather at church because they believe that mediation works and makes a difference in their lives.

Of all places, church ought to be a place to confront problems squarely in the middle of conflict, leaving one church for another does not ultimately solve the problem. For this reason, clergy and laymen alike must involve themselves in the mediation process. Helping people to reconcile with each other lies at the heart of the basic function of church leadership. To fall or to refuse to participate in the mediation process abdicates one of the most basic functions of church leadership.

Mediation Services of Adams County offers annual training equipping people of faith with practical tools and skills to address conflict in ways consistent with their creed. Trained mediators will guide the attendee through the mediation process, resulting in certification. The attendee may then use their skills to contribute to the harmony of their church.

Rev. Matthew Jury, pastors Grace Bible Chapel in York Springs, PA and serves as a board member certified mediator for MSAC. Please visit us online or contact us at (717) 334-7312, or by email at



Mediation ends Conflicts

Mediation ends Conflicts


December 9, 2015


Are you experiencing conflicts in the workplace? Is it difficult to communicate with a co-worker, a supervisor or manager? When you get ready for work, do you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?   You are not alone. Conflict is inevitable and while it occurs in all aspects of life, workplace disputes often have a negative effect on productivity and work relationships.

Conflicts develop when our individual needs, wants, methods, goals, and values are different. A conflict is different from a disagreement because it is almost always accompanied by feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety. Relationships fail or break down when the parties involved ignore or avoid the conflict, but in work situations, people normally have to continue to work together. Many employers recognize that managing conflict effectively is an essential skill for maintaining a cohesive and productive work environment.

As an employee there are some things you can do to deal with conflict more effectively. Conflict can be managed by learning and applying good communication skills and problem solving skills in your day-to-day interactions. In some conflicts, we become emotionally charged and our focus is on blame, fault, and responsibility (our positions). As we become entrenched in our positions, we unwittingly, “feed” the conflict by accusing, blaming or finding fault.

If we focus on individual needs and desires (our interests) and work with each other rather than against each other, we have a better chance for resolving the conflict. While uncovering the interests of each person in the conflict helps to pinpoint what triggered the conflict, problem solving techniques help us solve each issue the parties discussed. Most of us use problem-solving techniques at work every day. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that those same skills can be used to resolve conflicts.

If your attempts to solve the conflict are unsuccessful, then as an employee, you may use the traditional, formal systems available to you to settle a dispute such as the grievance process or Equal Employment Opportunity process. In recent years, mediation has increased in popularity because it is an informal problem solving process that saves time and is cost effective. The mediation process is designed to assist individuals in conflict with creating a mutual solution to their dispute.

Mediation is also helpful in improving communications and repairing relationships. Mediation differs from court processes because it is not designed to determine who is right or wrong. In mediation, the parties create their own agreement while the mediator acts as a facilitator. Unlike court proceedings where a judge decides the outcome, nothing is decided in mediation unless both parties agree to the terms.

If you elect to use a more formal process such as a grievance or other type of complaint process, someone else will decide the outcome for you. However, in the mediation process, you and the other person maintain control over the outcome. Which would you rather choose?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.





Communication is key to dispute resolution


JULY 6, 2015


Have you ever wondered why it’s such a problem to communicate with some people more than others? Do you find yourself avoiding people because you don’t want to deal with them? Well, you are not alone and here’s why….

Robert Fisher, author of Getting to Yes, says it this way: “Poor communication can lead to misunderstanding, unhelpful emotions, distrust, sloppy thinking, and poor outcomes”.

As we look at the process of communication, it seems there is responsibility on both the person speaking and the listener. As speakers, we must communicate a clear message while the listener is responsible for ensuring that he/she clearly understands what is being said.  As listeners, one of the things we can do is try to understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. The use of active listening skills may help you to begin understanding the other person’s message.

Active listening involves two important components: 1) restating what you think you heard and 2) reflecting your understanding of the message back to the speaker. Speakers, on the other hand, may stop periodically and ask if anyone has questions or understands what he/she is communicating.

Another dynamic involved in our daily communications, is our body language or nonverbal language. Rolling our eyes, putting our hands on our hips, raising an eyebrow, smiling, and nodding are all forms of nonverbal communication and have a huge impact on our communications. Being aware of the impact body language has on our communications with others may help us become better communicators.

Some body language is encouraging such as smiling or nodding while others, like putting our hands on our hips or working on another task may be distracting or seem confrontational. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,” observes Peter Drucker.

Communication Style is another factor that impacts our communications with one another. Most of us tend to speak in either a direct or an indirect style. A direct communicator is straightforward in his/her communications; the goal is simply an exchange of information. If you use an indirect form of communication, your listeners may have to read between the lines. If preserving harmony and strengthening the relationship is very important, the use of an indirect communication style can be beneficial.

Direct or indirect communication styles are used in a variety of communication settings. For instance, direct communication is important in an emergency, while indirect communication may be preferred when discussing a sensitive matter. Most of us use both communication styles; however, some of us have a tendency toward one style or the other, and these differences may lead to conflict.

What can you do to improve your communications with others?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.





Mediation helps

Mediation helps


June 11, 2015


Not long ago, I came upon a quotation by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (whoever he might be), but the truth of it struck me as saying a lot about mediation: “The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about yet refuse to investigate.”

In many communities across the US, citizens know nothing about mediation, at least in part because the legal community rejects it. We are fortunate in Adams County in having a handful of lawyers who are trained in mediation and willing to practice it with their clients. But “handful” is the optimum word here.

Those of us who understand and practice true mediation, which has nothing to do with deciding the outcome of a dispute for the disputants, wonder why it’s not more popular as a method of conflict resolution. Are we so deep into the notion of winning and losing that we are afraid to try a method in which both parties win? Are we so in love with power that we would rather find a high-priced lawyer who will sue the other guy for big bucks, rather than schedule an inexpensive facilitation? Or are disputants so lazy that they want someone else to do the hard work of finding a solution?

“Just listen to us and decide.” That seems to be the attitude of many people who are embroiled in conflicts. Not too long ago, Mediation Services of Adams County had a human resources director take our Basic Conflict Resolution Training and discover that she was doing just that – failing to empower the disputants. In fact, police departments and corporations often talk about “taking a problem to mediation,” when they’re not doing any such thing. If the “mediator” listens and makes, the decision, that’s arbitration.  Mediation is a whole different ball game.

With its roots in the Bible, as well as Confucian and Native American thought, mediation involves forgiveness, reconciliation and community. The very act of coming together in the presence of a trained facilitator is a huge step in the direction of reconciliation. Agreeing to listen respectfully to each other — without interruption — means recognizing each other’s dignity and beginning to re-build trust. Working together, with help in thinking outside the box, is a lesson in how to create community. Although forgiveness doesn’t always happen, disputants nearly always hug or shake hands at the end of mediation, and often there is an apology.

The outcome of mediation is usually an agreement, but sometimes not. Or it may be a partial agreement, which disputants will take to a lawyer for further action, after having done much of the difficult work inexpensively, with the help of a mediator. But mediation offers some stunning by-products as well. Particularly for individuals who share the same workplace or have adjoining backyards, mediation may establish trust and strengthen relationships. Or if a relationship is being terminated, mediation can help to make that happen in a way that minimizes costs and emotional harm.

If you are in need of help with a conflict, do your homework. Find out more about mediation. Check out our website or e-mail us at

Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.




August 13, 2015


When we are in conflict with another person, or even moving in that direction, most of us have a tendency to begin to find fault with that person. We might say to ourselves or to others that he or she is “getting on our nerves.” The next step is for us to find negative motives in the other person’s behavior. Then avoidance kicks in. We may stay away from that person or show the emotions we are feeling in various unpleasant ways. We might actually begin to view him or her as a “pain in the neck.”

This sort of pain does not call for a chiropractor because it’s not physical. And it’s not limited to individuals. We may come to regard an organization or even another country in much the same way. But why the neck? It’s an idiom, of course, a more polite way of saying “pain in the kiester,” a German –based expression for pain in one’s nether regions. But pain in the neck suggests that the head is also involved. It’s hard to hold up one’s head confidently when carrying the burden of conflict.

The source of the pain, which we attribute to another person who has annoyed us or hurt us in some way, may actually be oneself. Asking some hard questions might in fact help to relieve that pain in the neck. What did the other person do or say that led you to think of him/her as a pain in the neck? Can you describe in more detail what that pain feels like? How is this pain different from a physical pain? Can it be healed, by retracing the emotional steps that brought you to this point?

If a physical pain is severe, we would take steps to mend it: making an appointment to see a doctor or picking up a prescription for medication. Likewise, if a conflict does not resolve itself with time or thoughtful reflection, then it’s probably time to seek outside help. Mediation is a simple, low-cost approach to solving conflicts that will result in a win-win solution. If you call the MSAC help line, you will be connected with an intake coordinator who can listen to your problem and offer to set up a mediation session with that person who is such a pain in the neck.

Of course some people would rather continue in a cycle of pain rather than doing something about it. Maybe it gives them something to complain about. Bad-mouthing another person allows them the satisfaction of feeling superior. But that’s a cheap fix, at best. If your “pain” is someone who lives nearby or shares your workplace, it’s far better to sit down and talk over the issues that get in the way of a normal relationship. However, few of us can do that without the help of an impartial third party who will keep us on track and stop us from interrupting each other.

For assistance with a pain in the neck, call 717-334-7312 or e-mail MSAC at More information about mediation is available on our website.

Janet M Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.






Mediation coach at work with Trainees


October 8, 2015


In many parts of our lives, we need experts to guide us in the right direction or help handle a problem that seems to have no solution. Thanks to a grant from the Adams County Community Foundation, Mediation Services of Adams County was able to send two experienced mediators for training in Conflict Coaching with the Good Shepherd Community Mediation Center in Philadelphia.

Rosie Bolen, a professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, and Bob Smith, a retired business executive, have both had practical experience in working with individual and community conflicts. With their expertise, Mediation Services is pleased to offer Conflict Coaching as a service for the community.

Who needs a conflict coach? For starters, if you would like to mediate but you think the other party might not, or will not, come to the table, a conflict coach can help you figure out what to do next, including the pros and cons of seeking legal counsel.

Conflict coaching is also useful for someone who is considering mediation but is unsure what it involves. Or maybe someone has asked you to mediate and you don’t want to, but you would like some help in taking the next step. Perhaps you think that counseling would be helpful but you’re not sure. If you want to take someone to court but aren’t sure about expenses, a conflict coach can help. Let’s say you want to help someone else through a bad situation but don’t have all the answers   — time to find a coach!

A conflict coach can help anyone with a difficult problem to figure out the next step. However, conflict coaching should not be confused with counseling as in behavioral health. Conflict coaches cannot mend broken marriages, resolve long-standing family arguments, or help someone find a way out of depression. Coaches can, however, provide a sounding board for someone who is baffled by alternatives or needs to find clarity concerning conflict. A coach can help you explore options and think through the advantages and disadvantages of each.

You may decide to pursue the legal route after meeting with a conflict coach. You might opt to press charges through a district justice or hire a lawyer to help solve the problem. Others may elect to pursue some other form of alternative conflict resolution, such as arbitration, family group decision-making, or just “talking things over” with the other party. The point is that a conflict coach, while understanding the ins and outs of disputes, also has a good knowledge of community resources and can make much-needed referrals.

When someone seeks conflict coaching, the coach tries to understand the individual’s needs and goals. The individual and the coach may discuss the situation in question, how people behave in conflict situations, different approaches to conflict, and options to aid resolution. Each session lasts an hour and a half to two hours, depending on a party’s needs.

How can you make arrangements for conflict coaching? To speak to an intake coordinator, call 717-334-7213 or contact MSAC by e-mail: Conflict coaching is not expensive. We operate on a sliding scale according to income, with rates beginning at $10 and going up to $50 per session. Check us out!

Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.






Bullying Can Expand Online

Parenting may be the most important job in our society, even though it is an unpaid position. It brings opportunities for parents to grow, learn new things, and develop wonderful relationships with their children; but it also brings challenges, frustrations, and fears for the safety and well-being of those children. These days, social media is extremely important in the lives of our children, especially teens. It is scary for parents because neither teens nor parents can control what happens on social media, and teens just do not understand all the possible consequences of what they post on social media sites.

The days when parents provided privacy for kids are history. Now teens can “webcam” friends right into the house. This allows them to interact live online with friends–and with strangers– without parental knowledge. It is startling to learn that hackers can use malware to get into your computer operating system and actually take pictures of you or your child, using the webcam on your computer, possibly without anyone knowing. Using this, someone could watch every action in front of the computer.

Cyberbullying is the repeated use of technology to harass, humiliate or threaten. This is done mostly by teenagers who are not fully aware of the consequences of their online actions. Regardless of actual behavior, others may post things online, labeling a girl as “slut” or “bitch,” or labeling a boy as “gay.” These actions are destructive, whether they are true or not.

Nearly every teen has a cellphone or small computer with a camera. Teens like to “capture the moment” without getting permission from the people involved. It is important to know that a file remains, even on websites that say the image will disappear. Like spoken words, they can’t be “put back into the tube” after they are posted.

Nothing breeds irresponsible behavior like anonymity. Thousands of applications (apps) are available for electronic devices; some promise anonymity. Teens are realizing that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are public; parents and colleges can see what they post there, so they go to apps. Twitter has “subtweets” where teens can use codes only “insiders” know, making it difficult for adults to track. There are online sites “below the surface” that are harder to track. Students who are victims of this slander carry deep hurts that can be hard for adults to help. For more information see the article, “Exposed” in the spring, 2014 issue of Teaching Tolerance at

Abbreviations are important in online communication. Some that help young people hide what they are doing from parents are: CD9-Code 9, means parents are around; KPC-Keeping Parents Clueless; MOS-Mom Over Shoulder; P911-Parent Alert; PAW-Parents are watching; PIR-Parent in Room. You can find these and more at

A basic value of mediation is respect for people with whom we disagree. It is essential to respect people of all ages, cultures, creeds, and colors, and to model respect in our behavior and speech. Children, parents, teachers, and all other people deserve respect.

Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) has trained mediators available to help people work through strained family relationships, disputes with neighbors, contractors, landlords, and other conflicts for an economical fee based on income. If you would like more information about mediation, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County, 717-334-7312, on line, or the website, http: //

Mary Kay Turner is a teacher, who is a trainer, mediator, and board member of MSAC.