The Mennonite Peace Center was involved with Community Mediation Services of St. Louis from the inception. Initial efforts focused on collaborating with Columbia Elementary School to provide peer mediation for students. The program trained small groups of students in empathetic, respectful listening and in conflict resolution. By 2003, the Mennonite Peace Center initiated its first training sessions for conflict resolution and mediation for the broader community. In fall of 2003, the mediation program accepted its first referrals for mediation. Under the leadership of Mary Hellwig, Margaret Smetana, and others, the mediation program flourished. The Mennonite Peace Center was among the charter members of The St. Louis Area Restorative Justice Collaborative. The Peace Center provided mediators for the now defunct Community Conflict Services.
Despite the setbacks, the Mennonite Peace Center’s commitment to providing community mediation remained strong. In 2012, John Doggette, who had mediated for Community Conflict Services for some time and had experience leading the Community Mediation Center of Knoxville, TN, became executive director, working to transform the organization into Community Mediation Services of St. Louis, with the goal of making the organization self-sustaining and the recognized leader for providing affordable conflict resolution services to the St. Louis metropolitan area. Under Community Mediation Services of St. Louis former executive director, John Doggette, relationships with the City of St. Louis Citizens’ Service Bureau, the Neighborhood Improvement Stabilization teams, and the City of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department were developed to provide community mediation to service the needs of the City of St. Louis.
In 2016 Community Mediation Services of St Louis was identified by the Department of Justice Consent Decree for the City of Ferguson, Missouri to develop, in collaboration with the Citizens of Ferguson, a Community Police Mediation and Neighborhood / Interpersonal Mediation Program, enabling referred parties to resolve their conflict safely outside of the legal system.
To this end, Community Mediation Services of St. Louis currently offers the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri mediation services at NO COST. Mediation allows the participants involved in a dispute (1) a chance to be heard, (2) a chance to develop new ways of thinking about their dispute, and (3) a chance for the participants to develop their own solutions, all without the involvement of the legal system. Participating in mediation is voluntary, private and confidential.
The Mission and Vision of Community Mediation Services of St. Louis
The Mission of Community Mediation Services of St. Louis is to bring people together to talk and resolve differences through mediation, education, and training.
Our Vision as peacemakers is to become the recognized leader in Community Mediation, so that mediation becomes the preferred way to resolve conflict.