Conflict in the church : a gender based comparative study of the experience of conflict between minister and congregation in single handed charges of the Church of Scotland
This thesis examines, on the basis of gender, the issues surrounding the occurrence of conflict as it is experienced by ministers of the Church of Scotland working as the only person, ordained to Word and Sacrament, in their parish. The investigation used both quantitative and qualitative instruments to gather data from a sample of 123 females and 770 males out of a population of 123 females and 1042 males. The instruments were posted together in a single mailing in order to preserve the anonymity of the respondents. The survey data identified in particular the high percentage of respondents who claimed some experience of conflict in their present or immediate past Charge; the level of that conflict as assessed by the respondents using the range developed by Leas and Kittlaus, and the time in the parish before conflict occurred. The research also highlighted a general lack of any formal training in conflict management. The qualitative data served to highlight the wide range of issues, which have been identified as conflict generators within congregations of the Church of Scotland. The data indicates the range of conflict encounters experienced by both males and females based on the Leas and Kittlaus' theory of five levels of conflict intensity. Nine case studies have also been examined in-depth. They include one male and one female for Leas and Kittlaus' levels one to four. There is also one male at level five but no female equivalent as no respondent identified herself as being in this category. The data from the two instruments has allowed ten conclusions with accompanying recommendations, which are to be made to the Church of Scotland. Of these conclusions and recommendations, one of the most significant is the proposal to appoint a Ministry Adviser to every minister entering a new parish, irrespective of age and seniority, as a mechanism to assist with conflict avoidance. In addition, a number of areas of possible future research have been identified on this and related topics.