Leadership Series

Leadership Seminar Series

2018-2019 Leadership Series

The Leadership Series is an opportunity for leaders across professions (pastors, religious leaders, educators, administrators and health professionals) to enrich and expand their ability to apply principles of systems thinking to self, family, and organizations. Starting in 2007, the Series is on it’s 12th year of enriching leaders and building capacity for healthy functioning. The year is composed of eight one-day seminars that promote in-depth thinking about self, family, and organizational process through the lens of Bowen Family Systems Theory. A Seminar day includes plenary presentations in the morning and application of systems theory to workplace and family in small group coaching in the afternoon. Practical application of theory through working with a coach for an extended period of time is at the heart of systems thinking.

The eight concepts of Bowen family systems theory will guide the process of learning. 

  • Presentation and discussion of theoretical concepts of Bowen Theory
  • Application of theory in one’s family
  • Application of theory in the workplace

Responsibility for learning rests upon each individual.


In-Person Seminar Series

In-Person Schedule

  • 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. – Broadening perspective through the lens of systems theory (Part 1)
  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Break
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Broadening perspective through the lens of systems theory (Part 2)
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Bowen Video presentation
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Small Group Coaching – Workplace application
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Break
  • 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Small Group Coaching – Family of Origin (FOO) group

2018-2019 In-Person Dates

  • 21 September 2018
  • 19 October 2018
  • 16 November 2018
  • 18 January 2019
  • 15 February 2019
  • 15 March 2019
  • 26 April 2019
  • 31 May 2019*

*May Leadership Series Special Event


The 2018-2019 In-Person Healthy Leadership Series will be located at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO). MTSO is easy to find, located on U.S. Route 23, 10 miles north of I-270. Click here for a Google Map for reference. While MTSO is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, their student’s represent 20 different faith traditions and mirrors Healthy Congregations’ desire to build ecumenical relationships.
More information on MTSO

Online Seminar Series

Online Schedule

All times listed are Eastern Standard Time (EST)

  • 1:00 p.m – 2:30 p.m. – Broadening perspective through the lens of systems theory (Part 1)
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Break
  • 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Broadening perspective through the lens of systems theory (Part 2)
  • Online coaching groups will be scheduled at another time by the gathered group during the first session
  • Online participants will receive a link to watch the Bowen Video at their convenience

2018-2019 Online Dates

  • 20 September 2018
  • 18 October 2018
  • 15 November 2018
  • 17 January 2019
  • 14 February 2019
  • 14 March 2019
  • 25 April 2019
  • 31 May 2019*

*May Leadership Series Special Event


The 2018-2019 Online Leadership Series will use Zoom video conferencing software (zoom.us). This means you can log-in and participate from anywhere in the world. Zoom is a fast and reliable online conferencing software that Healthy Congregations uses to livestream all of it’s online events. Click here for an easy quick start guide before the event. Please contact the office if you have any questions regarding zoom or would like to set up a practice meeting.


Registrations includes full participation in the nine month program as well as access to a systems coach in small group sessions. An initial $100 deposit is due at the time of registration to reserve a place in the program. Additional installments of are due by the September and January seminars. Registration deadline is September 15th. Enrollment and attendance is expected for all one-day seminars. No reimbursement or credit for missed sessions. The initial deposit is refundable until two weeks prior to the first seminar.

Required Reading

One from each category

Introductory texts on Bowen theory:

  • Gilbert, Roberta M. “How Successful Parents Think: A Synopsis of Bowen Family Systems Theory for Parents.” Connecting with Our Children: Guiding Principles for Parents in a Troubled World. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999. 59-123. Print.
  • Gilbert, Roberta M. The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory. Falls Church, VA: Leading Systems, 2006. Print.
  • Kerr, Michael E. Family Evaluation: An Approach Based on Bowen Theory. New York: Norton, 2003. Print.

Advanced texts on Bowen theory

  • Bowen, Murray. Family Therapy in Clinical Practice. New York: J. Aronson, 1978. Print.
  • Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue. New York: Guilford, 2011. Print.
  • Kerr, Michael E., and Murray Bowen. Family Evaluation: An Approach Based on Bowen Theory. New York: Norton, 1988. Print.
  • Papero, Daniel V. Bowen Family Systems Theory. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1990. Print.

Seminar Location – MTSO.  Online opportunities are available throughout the country.

Seminar Series Facilitators:

Rev Dr Emlyn OttEmlyn Ott is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has served as a parish pastor, campus minister, pastoral counselor, leader, and seminary professor for over 25 years. She was named CEO and Director of Healthy Congregations,Inc. in 2005. She holds a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, a Doctor of Ministry from Phillips Theological Seminary, and is a Clinical Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She has participated for nine years in postgraduate work at the Center for Family Process and the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family and is currently part of Research Group at the Bowen Center.


Tony Wilgus

Anthony J. (Tony) Wilgus, faculty emeritus from the University of Findlay, taught social work for 28 years subsequent to a 10 year stint as a clinical social worker and administrator.  After graduate school at the University of Michigan, he entered the post-graduate training program at the Georgetown Family Center from 1979-1981.  Since that time, he has attended the annual symposia, presented numerous papers, and published manuscripts on a wide range of topics rooted in the family theory originated by Dr. Murray Bowen.

Currently, he resides in Oberlin, OH with his wife, Rev. Beth Marshall.  He occupies the ‘next chapter of his life’ by serving on the Board of Healthy Congregations, Inc. and the Human Relations Commission in Oberlin.  Cherishing his roles as a father of 3 lovely daughters and stepfather to a wonderful son and daughter, he now embraces the joys of grandparenthood to six active youngsters with another one ‘on the way’ in the fall.  Gardening, biking, reading voraciously, and listening to the loons on a Canadian lake bring much joy as he endeavors to lead a life of contemplation in action.


Additional Presentations by . . .

The Rev. Martin Billmeier and

The Rev. Lori Strang