Collide kicks off discussing conflict, forgiveness

The first day of Torrey Conference 2014 kicks off with sessions revolving around the issue of conflict, forgiveness, and redemption.


Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, opened up Torrey Conference 2014 with a session about the importance of confession and forgiveness in the midst of overcoming pain and shame. | Anna Warner/THE CHIMES

Augusta McDonnell and Jenna Schmidt

Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, opened up Torrey Conference 2014 with a session about the importance of confession and forgiveness in the midst of overcoming pain and shame. | Anna Warner/THE CHIMES


Early Wednesday morning, students packed into Chase Gymnasium and five overflow spaces, to kick off Torrey Conference 2014. Geometric designs decorated each conference space representing this year’s theme of Collide, which addresses conflict.

“It’s about how we deal with tensions in our lives, and the brokenness that we call experience, not only in the relationships but even in ourselves,” said President Dr. Barry Corey, in his opening comments to the conference. “My prayer is that there will be healing that happens during these few days, but also that you’d become a peacemaker as you go from here.”

Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne’s pretzel company, spoke at Session A, titled “Overcoming Pain, Blame and Shame.” Beiler shared her experience with conflict and her journey through depression and guilt after the death of her daughter Angela. Beiler’s talk emphasized the forgiveness resulting from confession to both God and others.

“An amazing part of being a believer is to absolutely know that you are forgiven, because when you know that you are forgiven, your life will drastically change,” Beiler said. “It’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. The work he did was and is complete.”


Gary Friesen smiles during his session in Chase Gym about why the gospel matters and how it shapes relationships today. | Markia Adamopoulos/THE CHIMES



Transitioning from the topic of confession, speaker Gary Friesen emphasized the importance of the gospel when dealing with different conflicts during Session B. Friesen’s extensive legal experience working both within the church and in a secular field have given him a broad range of knowledge of conflict.

Friesen tackled both the causes of conflict and ways to find resolution. He began by introducing the three main triggers that will cause conflicts that will predictably pop up throughout our lives, as well as some solutions.

Rifts that develop between people and groups based on personality, interests, race, cultural or personal background can prove difficult to reconcile when there exists little common ground for opposing parties to connect over, said Friesen. Misunderstandings can arise out of seemingly harmless situations and offenses between two parties can escalate quickly, he explained.  

The third main source of conflict comes from our own sinful desires, Friesen said. The problem arises when our desires become a demand, and then we expect others to conform to our desires.


Annette Frisen shares her thoughts about conflict and provides the audience with advice about how to fix problems by seeking God's direction and looking at our own hearts. | Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES



Friesen’s sister-in-law Annette Friesen also spoke at Session C from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.. Where Gary spoke on the topic of discovering the roots and resolutions of conflict, Annette explained the responses to conflict. Students received pamphlets outlining how conflicts can result in a variety of responses from harming oneself to harming others.

“The first thing that we try to do when we try to escape conflict is we try to deny,” Annette said when explaining the diagram in the pamphlet labeled “The Slippery Slope” of conflict. “Or, sometimes we just leave a situation. Of course, the ultimate escape is suicide, which is still the third leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Obviously, we’re not doing a very good job of teaching teens how to deal with conflict.”


Later in Session D, Gary returned to continue his explanation of ways we can address conflicts. Even in our brokenness, he said, there is a redemptive purpose in resolving conflict biblically.

“Our love for each other, the way we respond to each other in conflict, would be a message to the world about the gospel itself,” Gary said.

Confessing sins and seeking awareness of our own fault helps to bring transparency and understanding to a situation as well as gently restoring relationships by graciously overlooking minor offenses or seeking help through a mediator within the church, Gary said.

From his own experiences, Gary knows how painful relationships can be and how confusing it is to sort through the many elements of offense. That said, he explained how vital forgiveness and reconciliation are in the lives of Christians.

“Forgiveness is at the center of who you are as a person, as a follower of Christ,” Gary said.

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