The mediation process is designed to promote constructive dialogue and encourage a voluntary settlement of the parties’ differences.
The parties discuss the dispute with each other, under the direction and guidance of the mediator to:
– seek an understanding of each other’s positions and interests
– explore and address each party’s contribution to the dispute
– lead to personal reconciliation, and
– explore and evaluate solutions to the dispute
Parties may be represented by attorneys. The role and participation of the attorney in the mediation is governed by Rule 13 of The Rules of procedure for Christian Conciliation. The parties are encouraged to be the primary speakers in the mediation, with the attorney providing a role of giving counsel and advice to their client, not serving as the party’s advocate or spokesperson.
During mediation, the parties retain control over the final outcome, and the mediators act only as facilitators. Agreements reached through mediation may be documented in legal contracts or stipulations.
Discussion and conclusions of mediation proceedings are confidential pursuant to Rule 16 of The Rules of procedure for Christian Conciliation, and are treated as settlement negotiations and are not admissible for any purpose in a court of law, except as provided in Rule 16.
Parties are encouraged to involve their pastor(s) and church leaders as spiritual advisors and encouragers. Such involvement may include the participation of a party’s pastor or spiritual advisor in the mediation process. Such participation, however, is not for the purpose of acting as an advocate for the party or the party’s spokesperson. See also Rule 17 for information regarding the involvement of a party’s church.
Detailed Explanation of the Mediation Process
Every mediation process goes through at least six definable steps outlined using the acronym GOSPEL to highlight an emphasis on the centrality of Christ in every phase of the process.
Greeting and ground rules — The mediator welcomes the participants and orients them to the process. This stage typically includes a short devotion and opening prayer, led by the mediator.
Opening statements — Each participant provides a brief initial statement of what they hope to accomplish during mediation.
Storytelling — Participants communicate their stories and concerns, with each person having opportunity to fully explain their perspective, both on what has happened and on how they believe matters should be resolved.
Problem clarification — The information presented during storytelling is organized in terms of issues to be resolved. In most instances, issues originally set forth in the Statement of Issues are confirmed, but additional issues may also be identified during this phase and added to the agenda.
Explore solutions — The mediator assists the parties as they search together for specific solutions to each issue, tackling them one at a time. Issues may be relational in nature, as well as substantive, involving obligations and responsibilities.
Lead to agreement — Participants work with the mediator to seek personal reconciliation and arrive at agreements that settle unresolved substantive concerns.
The above steps in the mediation process are the general sequence for the mediation. Each step, however, may require different lengths of time, and there may situations where new facts and additional story telling may be identified during the problem identification or exploring solutions steps, requiring a revisiting of a prior step.
During the course of the mediation, the mediator may meet with the parties separately in a private meeting (referred to as a caucus). These private meetings may occur before the mediation begins, as a time of coaching and helping the party prepare for the mediation, or during the course of the mediation.