Tag Archives: 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 mediateac@yahoo.com.





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 www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-46-spring-2014

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 www.netlingo.com/top50/acronyms-for-parents.

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, mediationac@yahoo.com on line, or the website, http: //www.mediateadams.org.

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


by Dennis R. McGough, Ph.D.

Have you ever left work at the end of a challenging day, got behind the wheel of your car and then after a time, found yourself in your driveway? You can’t remember the specifics of the drive home, but sure enough, you arrived safely. You might wonder, “How did I get here?” Experiences of this nature, while perhaps a little unnerving, demonstrate the power that habits can have in our lives. The drive home from work is repeated over and over again, to the point that we occasionally make the trip on “autopilot”.

In his excellent book, THE POWER OF HABIT, New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg explains that habits are formed through a psychological process called a habit loop. The habit loop has three parts, the cue or trigger, the habitual action, and the reward, something that our brain uses to help us remember the habit loop in the future. Once we have formed a habit, our brain uses the habit loop to determine what we will do in a particular situation.

Habits can be very useful. As detailed in the classic book, SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, explains that habits allow us to deal with routine situations without having to think them through each time we face them. Habits can be good or bad. Most of us don’t have to think too long to come up with a few bad habits we would like to change.

Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. While insanity might be a rather harsh descriptor, it’s clear that in order to change a result of an interaction, we must find a different way to deal with the challenge.

Everyone faces conflicts in his or her life. Some are minor and quickly get resolved, like who will pick up the kids after basketball practice. Others, however, are more significant, and may remain unresolved because we use the same habitual approach to deal with the challenge. As Einstein pointed out, we can’t expect a different outcome unless we find a new way to deal with the problem.

Mediation can be a fresh, new way to deal with a conflict. People come together in a neutral environment and work face-to-face with a trained mediator to develop a mutually acceptable resolution to their differences. Mediation Services of Adams County, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to helping people resolve their disputes. MSCA provides trained mediators, whose goal is to help individuals develop acceptable solutions to conflict situations. To explore how mediation could help you, contact MSAC at 717-334-7312, mediationac@yahoo.com online, or see our website at https://www.mediateadams.org.

Dennis R. McGough, Ph.D., is an MSAC board member, retired business executive and retired faculty member of the Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program, University of New Haven, West Haven, Connecticut.




March 15, 2015

Knowing When to Ask for Help 

How bad does it have to be before you ask for help? Whether it’s a matter of physical pain, verbal abuse or emotional discomfort, some of us are unwilling or unable to say, “it hurts and I need help.” Maybe it’s a matter of trying to be brave and strong, or fear of being thought a sissy. In the case of bullying or abusive relationships, the victim may be threatened with worse violence if he or she tells. Or one may have a strong sense of independence and believe that things will get better by themselves. Often they get worse.

As an only child for most of my growing years, I was a lone wolf, depending on no one but myself. I learned early on that even my parents were unreliable when it came to promises and advice. Because my father was transferred frequently, we moved to a different city every three or four years. The need to make new friends kept recurring, but finding the right people in a different context always took time and didn’t always work out.

Imagine my delight in college when I discovered Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged! I also read The Fountainhead and thought I had found the perfect philosophy for my independent world view. But then a few courses later, I read Hobbes’ Leviathan and came to understand a superior idea: the social contract. It finally dawned on me that I am part of a community; that I can participate in the common good if I contribute to it and give up some independence in return for help from others.

What a brilliant notion! It underlies the concepts of local government, paying taxes, public education, police protection, garbage collection, fire protection, snow removal, public libraries, zoning and more. Of course I have to give up some things because I live in the Borough of Gettysburg: I can’t keep a goat in my back yard or burn my trash. But clearly advantages outweigh disadvantages. I get an amazing array of services in return for taxes I pay.

Most important, if I really have a problem, I can ask for help. I can call the police if harassed by a peeping tom. I can seek educational perks for a special needs child. Firemen will pump out my basement during a major downpour. In each case, it’s not difficult to know that help is needed. But it may not be so obvious if a situation develops in a family or workplace that is not life threatening but makes life uncomfortable for all concerned.

How do you know when to ask for help? If you read newspaper advice columns, you frequently see letter-writer advised to “get counseling.” When problems seem insoluble, or seriously affect the quality of one’s life, getting help is the right option. Sometimes all that is needed is a patient listener. Other times, the wisdom of an elder, a clergyperson or a mental health professional will shed light on the problem and reveal new paths. When it takes two to tango, it may require the help of a mediator to mutually untangle the situation and work out a win-win solution.

To get help from a mediator, call the MSAC help line at 717-334-7312 or e-mail mediationac@yahoo.com. Janet Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer.




Time for a Little Change!

Rev. Lynn Cairns

Spring-cleaning necessitated dusting off my bookshelf and sorting through some publications that I was willing to pass on to other potential readers.  I took a few to an adult class I participate in at church and held them up as offers to other readers.  When I showed one book there was instant recognition and laughter by nearly half of the class.  The title was Who Stole My Cheese?

It was an interesting story transpiring in ‘’mouse kingdom” where one insightful mouse discovers that the community supply of cheese is dwindling at an alarming rate.  Although the alarm is sounded, there is not much response from the majority.  Thus, one little industrious mouse goes off in search of another source and of course finds it.  Then there is a scenario of responses to his invitations for change that you can pretty well predict, based on traditional responses to change.  Some resist vehemently, to their own future peril.  Others see need but are not happy about it, and others recognize the need for immediate response.

I am sure that you too know the story well from your experience in personal relationships, whether in family, work or other communities of which you are a part.  Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) has been involved in the Gettysburg community and beyond for many years as a facilitator for persons who find themselves in need of assistance in adjusting to life’s conflicts and changes.

Often we procrastinate, leading to even more difficulty rather than solutions.  Proactive response is a much preferred action.  MSAC is willing to work with whatever structure you represent — personal, family or small business – using our trained mediators.  Lack of response and not utilizing resources can resemble the result described in the old proverb: “For Want of a Nail.”

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail”.

If you find that someone is moving your cheese and you are searching for a way to nail down a solution to your conflicts, MSAC can be reached at 717-334-7312.  Call and leave a message for the Intake Coordinator. MSAC will give a call back with more information and schedule an appointment with all parties concerned.  Moderate fees, based on a sliding income scale, are charged at the time of the mediation.  Contact is available online at mediationac@yahoo.com or https://www.mediateadams.org.

Rev. Lynn Cairns is a retired UMC pastor and MSAC board member.


An Attitude of Gratitude


Our attitudes affect everything we do in life:  the things we perceive, the way we see and understand those things, and the ways we relate and react with other people.   When we think only or mostly about ourselves, it is easy to miss discerning those things that other people are doing that are helpful to us and those things that we could do to assist other people.  As we learn to focus more on other people, we are able to understand life in new ways, interact better with more people, and learn so very much from them.

As we look at our lives we can see all that we have and be thankful; or with the opposite attitude, we can concentrate on what we think we want.  When we look at our relationships and the many ways our needs are fulfilled, we can understand that we have much for which to be grateful.  Most of us have everything we really need and, in addition, enjoy many things that we want.

It actually helps people feel better when they look for and appreciate the good people and things they have in their lives.  When we observe the ways that people help us, we have the opportunity to help them feel better, too, as we thank them for those things they do that assist us.  This can lead the people we’ve thanked to feel better and start to show appreciation to the helpful people in their lives.  We can start a cycle of people thanking and encouraging each other.

Try to be aware today of people who do things that make your day go better.  They may be members of your family, friends, coworkers, people who work to serve us, or total strangers who lend a helping hand.  I challenge you to share your smile as you write a note or say “Thank you” to at least 5 people who are helpful to you today.

I have known many people who display gratitude in their daily lives.  A wonderful mentor for me is a woman who has recently experienced cancer, the death of her husband, and family challenges.  Did she feel sorry for herself and grumble?  No, she kept on seeing the good things she still has in her life.  She frequently thanks people by making mini muffins and creative candies which she gives to her family, health care folks, local fire company volunteers, her church family, and other friends; and she also volunteers at a retirement facility.  I’ll start my gratitude today by saying, “Thank you, Ruthie, for being an amazing example.”

I hope you are thankful this month and always.

Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) has trained mediators available to help people work through strained family relationships, disputes with neighbors, contractors, or landlords, or 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, mediationac@yahoo.com on line, or check out the website.

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


Creative Resolution of Different Conflicts


It is a fact of life that whenever two or more people gather, there will be disagreements.  Once people accept the fact that conflict is a natural, normal, and inevitable part of life, they need to learn what attitudes are helpful in dealing with different kinds of conflicts.  It is important to understand that conflicts are not all the same.  Some kinds of conflicts involve safety risks and must be handled immediately while others barely cause a ripple in the day.

When facing conflicts that involve safety, it is important for adults to quickly make the right decision and act to keep everyone safe.  Many conflicts between children and parents fit in this category.  With children, situations will arise in which parents are able to see the broader picture including risks, while the child may see only the toy s/he wants right now.  For young children this might be a ball rolling into a street, and the child wants to go get it.  Older children might want to go places with friends or on their own before parents are confident of their ability to make good decisions to keep themselves safe.  Another area of parent/child conflict might be a child wanting unrestricted use of the internet with parents understanding risks involved in this and insisting on supervising websites the children are exploring.

Other family disagreements may involve less risk.  As children grow they want more freedom, and parents look for evidence of maturity and responsibility before granting it.  This has been part of family life for hundreds of years as children have wanted to do things their parents didn’t approve.  Parents and children need to be sure to listen carefully to each other as they talk together about responsibilities and privileges.  Each should try to understand the reasoning and feelings of the other generation.  They can work together; as children show responsibility and skills at making good decisions, parents can grant more freedom.

People bring stronger feelings to some conflicts than to others.  Some people are  highly incensed that healthy people take advantage of challenged people, for example by parking in handicapped parking spaces.  Some may want to confront them.  Other people don’t feel as upset about that infraction, or some may realize that some  physical challenges are not very obvious.  One person might be unconcerned by something that causes a strong reaction in another person.  So each person’s reaction will depend on the intensity of the feeling about a situation.

Facing conflict creatively requires one to listen and try to understand “where the other person is coming from.”  In thinking about how you deal with conflict it is helpful to understand whether you put more value on relationships or having your way.  Working through conflict can help people learn more about themselves, grow in understanding of others, and heal relationships.Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) has trained mediators available to help people work through strained family relationships, disputes with neighbors, contractors, landlords, or 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, mediationac@yahoo.com on line, or check out the website, http: //www.mediateadams.org.

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



Once again, it’s time for the 2012 flock of Mediation Services flamingos to wing their way back to their winter home.  They’ll make their final appearance at the MSAC booth at the Adams County Heritage Festival on Sunday, Sept. 15 between noon and 5 PM.  If the flamingos have not appeared in your yard this summer, you can breathe a sigh of relief until next May, when the flock, somewhat diminished in size, will again return to Adams County.

“Why are they diminished in size?” you ask.  Sadly, we must report that upon being flocked one family took it upon themselves to destroy five flamingos, which of course is an economic hit for the organization that uses the birds to raise money.  Not that the flamingos have not had some close calls previously!  One year, we were able to rescue them from a bag of garbage just before the truck came.  On other occasions, we’ve been greeted by angry homeowners who found the birds intrusive.

All of which leads us to reflect upon the subject of flamingos and fund-raising. Those of us who spend time chasing birds from one house to another, often find ourselves thinking about how pink birds might appeal to a sense of humor. Some people, upon finding five plastic flamingos in their yard, with a tag around the neck of one, might laugh out loud at the sight of what is obviously “a gift” from an anonymous donor.  Upon reading the tag, they might discover that a fund-raising campaign has targeted them and thus be moved to respond with a small donation.

That, of course, is what we hope will happen, and most frequently, it does. However hard we try, though, we don’t understand the response of those who are bothered (or maybe embarrassed?) by the questionable aesthetics of plastic birds on an expanse of green lawn. Why get angry?  Why not just send them on their way as soon as possible?  Many people do just that: make a small donation and help us out by offering names of where to send the birds next.

And what about those “threatened” by a statement that birds will not be removed until a phone call is made? Recipients of flamingo flocks are free to remove the birds themselves and call for a pickup, with or without a donation.  But failing to respond puts MSAC in a bad position, as we don’t know whether or not to retrieve the birds. When they sit in one place for a week or more, they aren’t earning. This summer, the birds were idle or retired for a total of two months, which was hardly productive.

For the first time this year, we also tried a fund-raising mail campaign. The return was modest, less than we’ve earned in other years with birds alone.  As we contemplate the difficulty of raising money in a town where many other organizations are trying to do the same thing, we regret any animosity generated by our signature flamingos. However, we continue to welcome donations to our non-profit organization, which provides low-cost alternative conflict resolution and training for local citizens. For more information, call 717-334-7312 or see our website www.mediateadams.org 

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