The Christian Peacemaker Who Left a Trail of Trauma

Judy Dabler built a career helping reconcile conflict within ministries including RZIM and Mars Hill. But a new investigation says she abused her authority to protect those with power.

A leading Christian conciliator who was involved in handling abuse allegations and training at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), Mars Hill Church, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), and dozens of other churches and ministries over the past 15 years, has been found unfit for counseling, coaching, or conciliation.

Judy Dabler founded two popular organizations for Christians needing a third party to help navigate conflict and broken relationships: Live at Peace Ministries (LAPM) and Creative Conciliation. She also taught more than 10,000 people how to do conciliation, which she described in presentations as the only biblical option for dealing with conflict.

In her conciliation work, though, Dabler consistently favored the person paying the bills, siding with the leader or big-name institution. Again and again, interviews and documents obtained by CT show, it was the less powerful party—the victim of sexual harassment, the beleaguered employee, the hurt congregant—who was pressured to make confessions they weren’t comfortable with and settle for agreements they thought were unfair.

Former clients and colleagues say Dabler protected and perpetuated power imbalances through mediation, all while appealing to Scripture and her authority as an experienced conciliator who had seen behind the curtain of the worst dysfunction in contemporary Christian ministry.

The renowned peacemaker also perpetuated abuses herself, according to interviews and documents. She bullied, belittled, and shamed her staff, and she sexually abused two seminarians she taught, supervised, and employed from 2007 to 2011.

“What you have to understand is that Judy is very gifted,” said Paul Vazquez, who worked with …

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