Ministry Skills/Transition Ministry Support

"Unity stands for peace in our lifetime, one life at a time."

(Ministry Skills was formerly called Peace Skills.)
The mission of the department for Ministry Skills of Unity Worldwide Ministries is to assist ministers, teachers, lay leaders and their spiritual communities in embracing conflicts, transitional issues and growth-related challenges as a means of creating authentic community; to create thriving, coherent and integral organizations; to teach ministry skills and nonviolent communication skills that can be used in every aspect of individual and congregational life; to equip regional ministry skills consultant, transition consultants and ministry specialists to serve as consultants and to expand Unity's influence for peace to other New Thought organizations.

These objectives are met, in part, through Education, Training and Certification and Ministry Skills Process Services.

Education: Provide ministers, teachers, lay leaders and congregations with the principles of ministry skills useful in transforming conflict into opportunities for healing and transformation; publication of articles and educational resources; online support, workshops, retreats and ministry skills symposiums.

Training and Certification: Provide comprehensive and effective regional and national ministry skills training intensives for certification of ministerial and lay ministry skills consultants and transition consultants and specialists.

Ministry Skills Process Services: Provide onsite services including, but not limited to: congregational ministry skills processes, mediation, transition consulting and leadership capacity building.

Open and print the useful Ministry Skills Process Overview.


Ministry Skills FAQs



Transition Ministry Support

When, for whatever reason, a ministry has lost the services of its minister there is a need to consider transition consulting. Change is situational. Transitions are psychological. Too often, church leaders fail to create an intentional process that embraces the emotional field of the entire community which undoubtedly needs time to grieve the loss of a beloved pastor or recover from a difficult ending.

You are likely ready for a new ministerial relationship when:

  1. You as a spiritual community are able to look back on your past and feel blessed by all that you have experienced;
  2. As a spiritual community you are clear as to what your church stands for (core values), why your community exists (mission), and you have a clear sense of where your congregation is wanting to go (shared future);
  3. You are clear about what issues and fears are embedded in your church's history that may be inadvertently projected onto the new relationship;
  4. You know the difference between searching for a surrogate parent and a spiritual coach;
  5. And, you are sufficiently practiced and disciplined at the art of "Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love" (functional dispute resolution system).

The primary goals of transition consulting are:

  • Create a value for the sacredness of transitions
  • Enhance the ministry's relationship to the Unity Worldwide Ministries and their region
  • Provide coaching to the leadership in dealing with organizational challenges
  • Implement the Honoring Our Past - Creating Our Future process
  • Initiate I of the Storm classes and book study as a foundation for adopting “Agreeing and Disagreeing In Love” covenants
  • Conduct the 4 Why's process to identify the church's DNA - Mission, Vision and Values
  • Review church Bylaws and policies to insure “best practices”
  • Provide support and assistance in creating a structure for the ministerial search process
  • Liaison between church leaders and regional and national Unity Worldwide Ministries officials

These goals are achieved in collaboration with the transition consultant, regional officials and other support programs and services available through the Unity Worldwide Ministries.

Transition consulting can provide a dynamic and transformative process for churches in transition (three months following the loss of the minister and before the search process begins). Comprised of three to five on-site visits by a ministry skills consultant/transition consultant, the entire church community is guided into a series of transformative events that create a spiritual context within which to understand and appreciate the communal story. The process energies the church community and cultivates an authentic context from which the ministerial search process can unfold.


Ministry Skills Support Team

Certified Transition Ministry Specialist

Nat Carter
720.480.6522 [cell]
303.697.1648 [home]

Nicholas Griffin
contact by email only

Barry Vennard
919.345.2526 [cell]

Certified Transition Consultant

Pat Ball
587.777.5460 [U.S. cell]

Toni G Boehm
816.304.3044 [cell]

Sandra Butler
571.358.7859 [cell]

Ron Fritts
217.430.8929 [cell]

Sonya Milton
707.258.0999 [home]
707.738.5729 [cell]

Marty Newman
269.598.4321 [cell]

Denese Schellink
805.708.7345 [cell]

Phil Smedstad
305.900.9640 [cell]

Cynthia Vermillion-Foster

Ministry Skills Certified

Christopher Ashe
928.775.4352 [home]

Pat Bessey
757.636.8241 [cell]
207.655.6080 [home]

Steve Colladay
816.728.1558 [cell]

Monica Driscoll
609.781.5115 [cell]

Beth Head
321.431.0637 [cell]

Elizabeth Longo
305.389.0122 [cell]

David Mosher
703.678.8170 [cell]

Joe Sloan
530.575.2262 [cell]


Lori Fleming
941.726.6679 [cell]

Baine Palmer
541.953.6543 [cell]

Cheryl Rohret
509.952.4427 [cell]

Carrie Kenyon


Disruptive Behavior Policy Guidelines


Ministry Skills FAQs

Q: How is a ministry skills process initiated?  
A: The ministry skills process is initiated when the Minister, any member of the Board, or a congregant contacts the Director of Ministry Skills & Transitional Ministry Support and demonstrates a need for ministry skills.  This need is usually determined after extended conversations with several involved parties.
Q: Who pays for ministry skills process?  
A: The church is responsible for all costs associated with the ministry skills process (some regions provide funds for ministry skills to their member ministries).  Expenses include transportation, lodging, meals, and fees for the ministry skills consultant/transition consultant. Since financial concerns are likely linked to conflicts in a church, it is important that the leadership consider the costs and consequences of delaying assistance. Experience has demonstrated that when a community makes an authentic commitment to the ministry skills process, the benefits far exceed all costs.
Q: What happens if the minister or the board does not want the ministry skills process?  
A: One sign of high level conflict in a church is when one party, the minister or the board, resists attempts to initiate the ministry skills process. When this is the case, the Director of Ministry Skills will assist the leadership of the church in working through whatever concerns or resistance exists regarding the ministry skills process. Because the ministry skills process is voluntary and non-punitive, it is necessary that all parties agree to the request for assistance.

In the event that one party remains unwilling to participate in the process, the bylaws of the church enable the minister or board to call a special membership meeting to resolve this issue.

Occasionally, it is the congregation that wishes help while the minister and board feel that assistance is not warranted. In this case, the congregation may request assistance subject to applicable provisions included in the bylaws of the church. A request for assistance does not always guarantee that assistance will happen, however. The Director of Ministry Skills will evaluate the request and determine if ministry skills is the most beneficial course with which to address concerns or issues underlying a request.
Q: Who gets to talk to the ministry skills consultant?  
A: People often feel the need to share information with the ministry skills consultant, especially when they have been deeply affected by the events and circumstances associated with a conflict. While hearing a person's story or receiving information is a very important part of the ministry skills process, this usually does not happen in the beginning. The first steps of the process are about creating a spiritual context within which all stories and each point of view can be valued and heard without being defended.
Q: Are ministry skills consultants/transition consultants primarily ministers? 
A: At present, lay ministry skills consultants/transition consultants who are also professional consultants are available to serve.
Q: Does the ministry skills consultant/transition consultant determine whether or not the minister should stay?  
A: The ministry skills consultant/transition consultant helps conflicted parties identify, understand, evaluate, and address problems in the church so the community can move forward. They assist everyone in making healthy choices based upon organizational integrity and spiritual principle. When questions arise concerning the minister's tenure, they will help create a process for determining whether or not the minister should stay, but they do not make this decision for the church. This process often involves the entire congregation. However, it is the policy of the Unity Worldwide Ministries to not intervene in a Board's decision to release the minister (See Position Statement).
Q: Does the ministry skills consultant/transition consultant make recommendations?  
A: The ministry skills consultant/transition consultant primarily serves to create a process that assists the entire church community in transforming interpersonal and organizational difficulties into opportunities for growth and positive change. Our focus is on healing and reconciliation as a precursor to problem-solving. When the client requests that recommendations be made they are generated out of agreements made between the minister, board, and church community to take ownership and responsibility for the issues facing the church. The ministry skills consultant may assist the ministry in strategic planning, visioning, and goal setting. They will not make written recommendations or provide the ministry with a written report.

Q: Why isn't a written report made to the congregation?  
A: Many aspects of ministry skills development are grounded in education, process consulting, mediation, and healing. No report is made as an evaluation of the client's situation because ministry skills processes are not substantive. The ministry skills consultant does not evaluate competence or affix blame. However, for administrative purposes, an Activity Report stating the ministry's name, dates and types of processes implemented, and the ministry skills consultant/transition consultant's comments is submitted to the Director of Ministry Skills & Transitional Ministry Support.

Q: Can the church use an outside mediator instead of Unity Worldwide Ministries?  
A: Yes. While the Department of Ministry Skills & Transitional Ministry Support also provides mediation services, experience has demonstrated that outside mediation has not always been successful in Unity churches when the level of conflict is high and affects the congregation at large.  As is often the case, conflict in churches is complex and driven by family systems issues. Our peace process model is adapted specifically to Unity and New Thought organizations and is grounded in Truth principles. The use of outside mediation or conflict management consulting can be an expensive and frustrating option.
Q: How long does it take for the entire ministry skills process to be implemented?  
A: Each case varies depending upon the size of ministry and the complexity of the issues to be addressed. The implementation of the entire process over three to five on-site visits can take on average four months to six months.
Q: How quickly is a ministry skills consultant/transition consultant able to begin working with a ministry once an official request for assistance has been made?  
A: It can typically take several weeks to make arrangements for the first on-site visit. Ministry skills consultants/transition consultants are either full-time ministers or professional lay consultants that have to manage cases amidst their already busy schedules.


Position Statement

It is Unity Worldwide Ministries' policy not to intervene in matters relating to a minister's tenure. However, most churches bylaws require a ministry to cooperate with Unity Worldwide Ministries' ministry skills process prior to the release of the minister. Cooperation does not necessarily mean engaging in a ministry skills process. The following is offered for clarity:

When there is conflict or interpersonal difficulty between the minister and the board, and when these tensions place the minister's tenure in jeopardy, assistance and support from Unity Worldwide Ministries should be immediately sought. The ministry skills services of Unity Worldwide Ministries are intended to assist Unity leaders and church communities in identifying the interpersonal, organizational, and systemic issues underlying conflicts and disputes. Once issues are identified, our focus is on healing and reconciliation as the precursor to problem solving. We do not affix blame, nor do we evaluate ministerial or board competence. Our services are voluntary and non-punitive. We help spiritual communities and their leaders work together in good faith to embrace conflicts as a means of discovering the missing links in their own intention to create authentic community.

While a church's bylaws may require the ministry to seek assistance from Unity Worldwide Ministries prior to considering the dismissal of the minister, this does not necessarily mean an engagement of Unity Worldwide Ministries ministry skills processes. The Director of Ministry Skills & Transitionial Ministry Support determines whether or not an on-site mediation or ministry skills process would benefit all concerned.
It is the position of the Director of Ministry Skills & Transitional Ministry Support that the spirit of the bylaw's provision requiring cooperation with Unity Worldwide Ministries has been fulfilled when:

The minister and board each has communicated their concerns, issues, and positions to the Director of Ministry Skills & Transitional Ministry Support or the Executive Director, Field Ministry & Minister Services prior to an action to release the minister.

Parties have attempted to implement any suggestions and/or recommendations offered to address issues.

Unity Worldwide Ministries does not intervene in disputes surrounding the minister's tenure. As a general rule in tenure disputes, the ministry skills process is not warranted when:
Disputants lack the capacity or the willlingness to work together in good faith, or when there is not desire to pursue an amicable resolution of differences, for whatever reason.

Ultimately, both the minister and board are accountable to the church membership. It is up to the membership to hold its leaders accountable to whatever is highest and best for all concerned.

Resource Key

online support Thriving Ministry Model Workshop video and slide show files

training intensives Ministry Skills Training Intensives in Events

Ministry Skills Process Overview document

See also Certified Ministry Skills Training