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2021 May Leadership

Series Special Event

Unknown Terrain: Mapping Possibilities for Today & Tomorrow

Thursday, May 20, 5:30-9p (EDT)

Friday, May 21, 9a-12p (EDT)

Please join us online via Zoom

This event is open to the public.

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Israel Galindo

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Margaret Marcuson

Guest Speakers:

Unknown Terrain: 6 Things I Don’t Know About

Tomorrow (and 7 Predictions)

The disruptive COVID-19 pandemic has left many wondering about its aftermath. Will things return to normal? Will there be a new normal? Will the pandemic lead to "systemic change" or is a passing acute crisis? This presentation explores some of these questions during this unsettled time.


Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Programs of the Center as well as the reKindle congregational development program, a Lilly Endowment-funded Thriving Congregations grant initiative. He is the author of several books, including The Hidden Lives of Congregations, Leadership in Ministry, Perspectives on Congregational Leadership, and Academic Leadership: Practical Wisdom for Deans and Administrators.


“Are We There Yet? Resources for the Journey”

None of us knows where we’re going as we lead in these uncertain times, let alone when we’ll get there. We’ll need all our reserves to move forward — and they may seem low right now. This presentation will help you gain a new perspective on this journey, reflect on the emotional and spiritual resources you already have, and learn ways to discern and develop more sources of strength.


Margaret Marcuson offers a way faith leaders can bring their best to their work without giving it all away, so they can have a greater impact and find more satisfaction. Margaret speaks and writes on church leadership (including financial leadership), and teaches and coaches with leaders around the U.S. and Canada. She has worked with ministers and other leaders from 17 different denominations. Margaret is the author of Leaders who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry and Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance. An American Baptist minister, Margaret was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardner, Massachusetts, for 13 years. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Jennifer Long

Dipping a Toe in the Water: An Overview of Bowen Family Systems Theory

As a clinician early in his career, Dr. Murray Bowen would engage in a research project that led him toward a science of human behavior, now known as Bowen Family Systems Theory. Eight concepts emerged over time and more than fifty years later, the theory survives and continues to be used in a variety of settings. The presentation will look at the basic tenets of Bowen Family Systems Theory  and how they can be useful to leadership in faith communities and other organizations

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Workshops - Select 1 of the 7 being offered

Register soon as each workshop is capped at 20 participants!

(All workshops will be recorded and shared with registrants after the event.)

1. Israel Galindo - “What Bowen Family Systems Theory Teaches Us About Congregations”


Bowen systems offers insights into predictable patterns of the emotional-relational nature of relationship systems. Congregations are "systems of a type." As such, all congregations share predictable patterns to some extent. This  presentation offers insights from Bowen theory on predictable patterns of congregations.

2. Margaret Marcuson - “How to Handle a Money Crisis (or Simply the Fear of One)”

Congregations have experienced different financial circumstances during Covid-19—but no one knows what the future holds. This workshop will help you step back and think systems about your church’s financial circumstances, especially if a crisis looms. Learn how you can become more thoughtful about the financial challenges you and your church may face at this time, and bring more calm and creativity to the present and future financial impact of the pandemic.

3. Marla Flewellen - "Good Grief"

This workshop will provide an interactive healing experience for participants to grief and grow. In a safe and sacred space participants will name their grief and losses, participate in

a remembering ritual and receive support for outlining a coping plan for anticipatory grief.

4. Imani Jones “More Than a Game of Limbo: Psychological Flexibility, COVID-19, and          the Family System of the Church”

How low can you go? Do you feel like you have been in a perpetual state of limbo as you have attempted to navigate the life-altering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your life, family, and the church? This workshop will explore the concepts of psychological flexibility and inflexibility as sources of resiliency and risk in ministry through the lens of Bowen Family Systems Theory.  Participants will examine flexibility as an intervention strategy for ministry as the pandemic rages on and pushes congregations “do church differently.”

5. Barbara Laymon - "Gaining perspective: A Resource for Congregational Leaders"

A new framework for congregations facing challenges, the Perspicacity model is based in Bowen Family Systems Theory. Within each of its five domains – Resourcefulness, Tension, Connectedness, Focus, and Goals – a range of congregational functioning can be understood.  During the breakout session, I will introduce the pilot Perspicacity framework and provide some detail on two dimensions: Resourcefulness and Focus. Participants will be invited to ‘score’ their congregations on these dimensions and to discuss their findings.


6. Dana Runestad - “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Any Road Will Get You There”

Does this African proverb describe what it’s been like for you the past eighteen months? Does it capture your fear about the next eighteen? In this workshop we’ll explore resources for the journey, even when the destination may seem like a “moving target.” How does defaulting to "any road" too often take us to where we didn’t mean to end up? How does using a compass at least point us in a preferred direction? What resources does Bowen Family Systems Theory offer? Take home a map of the on-going process of Differentiation of Self, which you can also use as a "daily examen" to help you navigate uncertain terrain, or at least keep your vehicle tuned up, full of fuel, and ready when the destination becomes clear.

​​7. Tony Wilgus“Going Tribal: A Global Pandemic”

In his book, The Human Swarm, Mark Moffitt describes the ways in which humans and their larger societies predictably organize themselves into ‘us’ and ‘them.’  Clergy and organizational leaders are no strangers to this phenomenon as societies organize themselves into myriad identity groups: gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political and religious affiliations, and more. Join us to explore how concepts articulated within Bowen theory illuminate these instinctual human processes.

-- Choose one of the above workshops to attend on Friday morning.​ --

(All workshops will be recorded and shared with registrants after the event.)

Register soon as each workshop is capped at 20 participants!



​Thursday May 20 (5:30 – 9:00p) EDT

5:30 – 6:15 pm           Optional – Bowen Theory 101 with Jennifer Long "Dipping a Toe in the Water"

6:30 – 7:00 pm           Opening Welcome

7:00 – 7:45 pm           Keynote #1 - Israel Galindo "Unknown Terrain: 6 Things I Don’t Know About Tomorrow

                                                                                    (and 7 Predictions)”

7:45 – 8:00 pm           Break

8:00 – 8:15 pm           Responses to Presentation with Margaret Marcuson & Emlyn Ott

8:15 – 8:45 pm           Question & Answer with Israel Galindo & Margaret Marcuson

8:45 - 9:00 pm            Benediction

Friday May 21 (9:00a – 12:00p) EDT

9:00 – 9:10 am           Opening Prayer and Welcome

9:10 – 9:50 am           Keynote #2 - Margaret Marcuson “Are We There Yet? Resources for the Journey”

9:50 – 10:05 am         Responses to Presentation with Israel Galindo & Emlyn Ott

10:05 – 10:15 am       Break

10:15 – 11:00 am       Workshops - 7 to Chose From

11:00 – 11:15 am       Meditative Movement

11:15 – 11:45 am       Final Thoughts with Emlyn Ott "A Look in the Mirror & Shot in the Arm"

11:45 – 12:00 pm       Closing Blessing and Sending Forth

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