Thursday, July 7, 2011

Writing Workshop offered at LPTS


Apply for this tuition-free workshop designed particularly for pastors and church leaders who are committed to the ways writing can be a spiritual practice, an expression of the pastoral imagination, and a service to the church and the world. From articles and reviews to curricula and books, from memoirs and poetry to blogs and children’s novels, the possibilities for the committed writer are wild and wonderful. In a small group setting, participants will have the opportunity to develop their skills, share ideas and drafts of work, explore possibilities for publication, and—most of all—nurture their passion for writing, while residing and working on the 67-acre park-like campus of Louisville Seminary.

The leader is Dr. J. Bradley Wigger who teaches both writing and education at Louisville Seminary. He has written for general, church, and academic audiences alike, including numerous articles and essays, books for scholars as well as for children. He was Consulting Editor for the Jossey-Bass Faith and Families book series and for many years he was the Editor of the journal, Family Ministry. Most recently he has been studying creativity and the imagination in children (as part of a research project for the University of Oxford) and hopes to write his next book on the subject. 

Louisville Seminary, in partnership with The Collegeville Institute, offers this workshop tuition free, and will cover room and board at the Seminary. Participants will provide their own travel expenses to and from the workshop. Those who join the workshop will be expected to reside at Laws Lodge on the seminary campus throughout the entire week.

The program is limited to 12 participants | Application deadline is July 31.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Three C's of Minister Support

Small Peer learning Group in Action
(2010 Emotional Intelligence Seminar)
I keep trying to remember the three "C's" of clergy support needs.  This morning I spotted the old  book on my shelf and looked it up:  Barbara Gilbert, Who Ministers to Ministers? (Alban, 1987).  Here's a quote from the pertinent paragraph. 

"One study...proposed the 'Three C's' as basics:  Comfort, Clarification, Confrontation.  We need people whom we can trust with our pain and uncertainty and who will comfort us, often by just being good listeners.  We need people who help us clarify by asking the right questions and pointing us to significant resources. We need people who care about us enough to lovingly confront us with that which we don't see or have been avoiding."

As we keep working to find ways to build peer learning groups for ministers throughout their working lives, these keep cropping up for me as helpful in identifying what we need and what works.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Emotional Intelligence Seminar 2011!

David Harris (front left) facilitating a small group, EQ-HR 2010.

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is once again offering its very popular course, “Emotional Intelligence and Human Relations,” an intensive and highly experiential week-long opportunity for strengthening leadership skills for congregational life. The course will take place on the campus of Louisville Seminary, August 22-27, 2011, and accommodations can be reserved on the Seminary campus at Laws Lodge.

Participants can expect to:

• Improve awareness of concepts of emotional intelligence and the impact of emotional intelligence on the participant and all with whom he or she interacts.

• Improve ability to identify, articulate, and reflect on various phenomena of group life and group process.

• Improve understanding of how one is impacted by a group and one’s own impact on a group.

• Increase skills in pastoral leadership for lay and clergy.

• Develop heightened awareness of the importance of constructive behavioral information about self and others as leaders.

• Develop heightened awareness of the presence of God’s Spirit in group life and ability to identify and reflect on that presence.

• Recognize the redemptive possibilities within groups.

A majority of time will be shared in small, unstructured groups of 10 to 12 people with two experienced facilitators. As group life unfolds, participants focus on their feelings and behaviors in the here-and-now in order to learn about the impact of their behavior on others through the appropriate use of feedback and experimentation. The work will draw on five areas of emotional intelligence as keys to improving leadership effectiveness for faith based leaders.

In preparation, participants will complete the BarOn survey on emotional intelligence. They will also identify up to 20 people who know them well and who are willing to complete the inventory for them. What results is a 25-page printout of one’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). This will be for the participant’s eyes only and will provide the participant with personal items to explore in their small group. The $182.00 cost of the inventory is included in the tuition fee. Past participants have described this workshop as a life-changing event in their lives.


Roy M. Oswald

Author, seminar leader, and former senior consultant for the Alban Institute, Oswald is currently Executive Director of the Center for Emotional Intelligence and Human Relations Skills. He has provided leadership for hundreds of conferences and training events in the U.S. and Canada. A variety of denominations have called on Oswald to focus on the pastoral role and the dynamics of parish leadership. He also frequently consults with local congregations and judicatories where his planning model utilizes norms, myths, and meaning statements from a church’s past. Oswald is identified with research into the transitions clergy make when they enter parishes for the first time and for clergy in longer pastorates. More recently, he has headed studies of the candidacy process, leadership needs of small congregations, and new methodology for assessing ministries using clergy/lay teams. His most recent book focuses on the Eight Polarities a Thriving Congregation Manages Well. (2007)

David R. Sawyer

David Sawyer is Professor of Ministry teaching in the areas of church leadership and administration, and directs the Lifelong Learning and Doctor of Ministry programs at Louisville Seminary. He has forty years experience as a pastor, associate pastor, interim pastor, new church development pastor, judicatory executive staff, and in group facilitation, human systems consultation, and workshop leadership. He is author of Work of the Church: Getting the Job Done in Boards and Committees (Judson Press, 1987), and Hope in Conflict: Discovering Wisdom in Congregational Turmoil (Pilgrim Press, 2007).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How Does a 21st Century Leader Respond to Crisis?

Sir Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony
Picture from AP
 The CEO of Sony, Sir Howard Stringer was in a wheelchair heading for a hospital in New York City when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Stringer had just arrived in New York City for emergency surgery on a slipped disk in his back, and he postponed the surgery for a day to get on the phone with his senior staff to rescue and protect workers in Japan. The disaster planning was quickly overcome by the extent of the tragedy, but having a creative and capable group of executives in place, he was able to turn it over to them and head for the surgical suite.

That sounded to me like a leader who has nimble and collaborative structures in place to respond to the changes and chances of the 21st century, so I did a little research on him.

When Sir Howard moved from head of Sony’s American subsidiary to CEO of Sony in 2005, he flew to all points of the globe to rally Sony’s scattered enterprises to a turnaround plan.

“As part of that plan he has set out to streamline and reorganize Sony's core electronics business, which accounts for 70 percent of the company's $64 billion in sales. More crucially, he is trying to overhaul Sony's culture to become more internally collaborative and much more software-savvy. And he is tackling these challenges at an enterprise that is so large and diverse that it simultaneously produces some of the coolest gizmos on the planet (like Sony's Location Free TV viewer or its latest CyberShot camera), yet appears lumbering and clueless in other aspects (think of the faded glories of the Walkman or the Sony Connect downloading service).” (Richard Siklos and Martin Fackler, “Sony’s Road Warrior,” New York Times, Business, Published: May 28, 2006,, accessed 3-21-11)

That collaborative, horizontal culture came in for its biggest test when the earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan. Stringer was pleased with the resiliency of his Japanese employees. “Engineers at the flooded plant, while waiting for help to arrive, had started to build homemade boats using office furniture and salvaged tsunami debris, using them to bring food to still stranded townspeople” (Brooks Barnes, “A Disaster Spares the Heart of Sony,” New York Times, Monday, March 21, 2011, p. B6).

As I read this article and researched Stringer, I thought about heads of institutions who fall back on their hero-savior roles and attempt to navigate these financial hard times all by themselves. Often they have caring and competent colleagues and workers who could make the decision-making more effective; sometimes they have avoided hiring or keeping mature and helpful team members in place. And I thought about all the times that governing boards fall back on hierarchical approaches that lead to stilted decisions.

The church at local, regional and national levels makes a big mistake when it thinks it is following “good management practices” with hero-savior leaders and hierarchical controls. And that mistake stifles the church’s ability to adapt to the rapidly changing needs and emerging concerns in the contemporary environment. Truly good management practice would install or improve structures that are more complex, horizontal and collaborative in order to navigate the turbulent waters of the early 21st century. President Obama put this very succinctly, (quoted on NPR ‘s Morning Edition, “Obama Agency Review Looks to Snip Red Tape,” March 24, 2011)—“We can’t win the future with a government built for the past.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Taking up the cross in Lent

I've always struggled with Jesus' words:  "take up your cross and follow me."  Hearing my pastor, Jane Larsen Wigger talk about it at the beginning of Lent this year set me on a new perspective (my own, not Jane's necessarily).

What if "the way of the cross" is the way of weakness and vulnerability?  What if Catherine Keller is right (On the Mystery) in pointing to the power of God shown in the cross--the ultimate and infinite vulnerability of love.  Keller quotes John Caputo: "The perverse core of Christianity lies in being a weak force." (Keller, p. 84).

What if the suffering that is required in taking up one's cross is broader and deeper than simply death, but involves a life of vulnerability?

Daniel Day Williams included in his powerful description of Love (The Spirit and Forms of Love, 1968) the notion of suffering, by which he meant "the capacity to be acted upon, to be changed, moved, transformed by the action of or in relation to another." (p. 117).  To love, he said, is to freely put oneself in relation to another free person and allow that commitment to limit and change one's own life and freedom.

Watching the lovely underrated film "Love and Other Drugs" brought this point home to me.  Jake Gyllenhaal plays a self-centered jerk who eventually decides to love Anne Hathaway's character in her struggle with Parkinson's disease.  "I can't ask you to take this on," she pleads.  He responds with something like "You're not asking--I'm offering." In his free choice to stay with her in her obvious progressive disability, he suffers the limitation and transformation of love.  In that moment, I think he has taken up his cross!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

From Montreat's Blog--update on two conferences!

Spring Greetings from Montreat!

Important Information to Use and Share
Spring is finally here, and along with thefirst blooms and balmy breezes of the season come special spring programs at Montreat Conference Center that are particularly designed to empower you and the pastors with whom you are in ministry! Please forward this email, share with the pastors in your presbytery, and encourage all who might benefit to take advantage of these timely learning opportunities! The time to register is now!

For more information and registration, go to

Equipping Your Pastors for Ministry

The Solo Pastor to Multi Staff Seminar
May 8-13, 2011

Can you identify pastors in your presbytery who started out serving as solo pastors, but were then called to ministry in large churches? This transition, which is often difficult, leads pastors to ask hard questions: What do I focus on? What should I do differently? Why are there different expectations? Why do I always feel like I'm “stepping on people’s toes?” This seminar will help those pastors discern their gifts and skills and successfully weave them into the ministry of their new position. This seminar is also helpful for those who are considering this migration. Leaders are Harris Schultz and Deborah Fortel. If you know pastors who might gain fresh insight and new tools for ministry by attending this seminar, please urge them to register online today!

 The Hope in Conflict Seminar
May 8-13, 2011

Several years ago, when we had some conflicts with staff at Montreat (yes, it happens here, too), one of our senior staff members helped us define the conflict as “a difference of opinion about something that really matters.” What a hopeful thing! No matter which side of the fence you're on, it matters! Believe it or not, the best part of any conflict is the people. They clearly care. They're not apathetic. They are engaged. So, how do our congregations in conflict work through that conflict and find the hope? This is an opportunity for pastors to engage in conversation and learn from David Sawyer, author of the book, Hope In Conflict, available at Montreat Books and Gifts. Reserve your place at this timely event, and please share it with others who might benefit. Online registration is still available.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Rev. Janice Catron
 "EXODUS" - - A series of six presentations led by Janice Catron, Pastor, John Knox Presbyterian Church of Louisville

Can you remember one event that helped more than any other to shape who you are today?  For the people of Israel, that event was the Exodus--an experience to pivotal that echoes of it run throughout the New Testament as well. The Spring Lay Bible Class will explore this remarkable story and its meaning for Christians today by focusing on its main themes, which include grace, providence, deliverance, and the care of one another.

April 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18.
Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m  to Noon
Laws Lodge

The cost for this course is $40.  Register online at  E-mail or call David Sawyer or Laura March at the seminary for answers to your questions about this or any Lifelong Learning events.  800-264-1839.