Tom Porter is a United Methodist minister, teacher, mediator and trial lawyer. He was the founding Executive Director of JustPeace Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, The United Methodist Church and now is part of the JustPeace Staff Collective. He is also co-executive director of the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology. After graduating from Yale University, he received a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary and a Juris Doctor from Boston University Law School. He studied mediation at Harvard Law School and Eastern Mennonite University.
Tom is an ordained elder of the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church. For twenty-three years, Tom was the chancellor for this conference. He was a founding partner of the trial firm of Melick & Porter LLP in 1983 and has been a trial lawyer since 1974, representing religious institutions, universities, hospitals, professionals, nonprofit organizations and others. He is a member of the board of the Journal of Law and Religion and was chair of the board from 1989 through 2001. He was a founder and the president of the Council of Religion and Law, a society of law professors and theologians as well as lawyers and ministers, from 1978 to 1985.
From his experience as a trial lawyer, his work as a mediator and teacher and his experiences studying the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, he came to understand the centrality of our common calling to be ministers of reconciliation, the need to embody this in the way we deal with conflict, and the importance of this ministry to our vocation and spiritual formation and our life together in community. Besides teaching and training, he has facilitated mediations and circles of accountability and healing within the Church. He believes that local churches can be centers of relational healing and peacebuilding for their members as well as the neighborhoods in which they reside.
He served on the board of Union Theological Seminary, chairing its educational policy committee, from 1992 to 2001. He has taught at various schools, including Union Theological Seminary in New York, Claremont School of Theology, the Theological School of Drew University, Illif School of Theology and Pepperdine Law School. Currently, he is a Lecturer at Boston University School of Theology. He is the author of The Spirit and Art of Conflict Transformation: Creating a Culture of JustPeace and the editor of Conflict and Communion, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice at Christ’s Table. He is now writing a book on the theology and jurisprudence of restorative justice.