INDEPENDENT COMPLAINT AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
We are a family held together by unconditional love, servant leadership, and true unity.
Our striving for this ideal from our vision can be undermined by conflicts and abuse of authority. That is why we want to identify and address unhealthy developments at an early stage. For this reason, we at ICF have decided to mandate and appoint an independent, external, and non-directive Clearing Office (Ombudsperson).
The Clearing Office helps us create a healthy environment in which we handle disputes well. This point of contact for difficult conflicts is part of a multi-level conflict- and crisis management concept which we are establishing. Complementing existing structures, the Clearing Office provides protection and safety for the people in our churches and a clear procedure on how to address serious conflicts and complaints.
The ICF Clearing Office (Ombudsman) was established as an independent complaint and conflict management service for ICF churches, their visitors, staff, pastors, and outsiders (including organizations). It meets the following standards:
As a registered mediator and in agreement with the guidelines of the Clearing Office, the Ombudsperson is committed to confidentiality.
The Ombudsperson is not a member of the Board, a staff of ICF, or any of its local churches.
The Clearing Office will only take action against third parties in consultation with the applicant or affected person.
OFFERS & PROCEDURES OF CLEARING OFFICE
The Clearing Office offers a complaint and conflict management service accessible to all ICFs and their environment. This includes:
RECEIPT OF COMPLAINTS
Requests and complaints can be sent in by pastors, staff, third parties / visitors / public entities etc on topics such as conflicts with leaders at ICF churches or the ICF Movement, manipulation, handling of finances and donations etc.
After the free online analysis, there is the option to have a confidential talk about possible steps with the Ombudsperson. Further steps will only be taken in consultation with the applicant.
If the applicant wants to resolve the conflict on his / her own after conflict counselling, there is the possibility of online conflict coaching by a mediator on request. The conflict coaching / mediation is charged by the Ombudsperson directly.
CLEARING CONVERSATION / MEDIATION
After consultation with the involved parties (ICF / ICF Movement), the Clearing Office will organize mediation meetings with all involved persons and facilitated by a neutral mediator with the goal of bringing about a sustainable clarification.
Married, two adult children, lecturer for mediation and conflict management at the University of Graz, inventor of the MEDIUS Conflict Navigator, and ombudsman of the “Freikirchen” in Austria.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The ICF Clearing Office (Ombudsman) was established as an independent complaint and conflict management service for ICF churches, visitors, staff, pastors, and outsiders (including organizations).
The Clearing office provides a confidential, protected setting for adults, youth, and children.
Requests and complaints can be sent in by pastors, staff, third parties/visitors / public entities, etc., on topics such as conflicts with leaders at ICF churches or the ICF Movement, manipulation, handling of finances and donations, etc.
Conflicts between church visitors or complaints about each other are not subject to processing by the Clearing Office.
Neither is the Clearing Office responsible for general inquiries of organizational character or concerns regarding the organizational structure of ICF (constitution, by-laws, guidelines, church rules,…). Such requests are being referred to the secretary’s office of the ICF Movement.
After receipt of the request/complaint, the complainant or affected person receives an access key to analyze the situation with the online conflict navigator. The options for action suggested for clarification and further steps can then be discussed with the ombudsperson in an online meeting.
Dealing with these inquiries/complaints will happen in consultation with the bodies concerned (pastor, leadership team, staff of the respective church, or ICF Movement) by telephone or electronic media. If possible (consent of the person complained about required), personal talks of all parties involved with moderation by a neutral mediator are brought about. The communication is to be conducted via an online platform in the most resource-saving way possible.
From the request to the evaluation of the online analysis, there are no costs for the applicant(s). If he/she wishes conflict coaching to discuss and reflect on his/her clarification steps, this is subject to a fee.
If mediation is a suitable clarification procedure, the Clearing Office will reach an agreement with the parties involved. This is free of charge for the applicant. After the preliminary phase and all parties’ agreement, a mediation contract is drawn up. Only when all sides have agreed on this mediation contract, and the jointly determined cost key, will the costs be settled accordingly.