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Trinity's Midweek Blast for May 7, 2014

Forming Healthier Leaders

I hear it whispered during quiet moments in groups or every once in a while behind closed doors. A brave person might even post on the "What I Never Learned in Seminary" website the question that asks: Where can I honestly grapple with the realities of my hurts and hopes and the experience of being a leader in the church today?

Groups of clergy, lay leaders, business people, and educators have gathered since 2007 in a classroom and via live-cast at Trinity Lutheran Seminary for Healthy Congregations' Leadership Series. The Leadership Series emerged out of a need expressed by so many: to be fed by ongoing ideas, to acquire a realistic framework for dealing with the pain of their own and others' lives, and to be fueled by the confidence of God's love expressed through honest, challenging, and hopeful interactions.

I am the Executive Director of Healthy Congregations. I am also on a daily quest to apply the essence of Bowen theory to my life as a family member, pastor, teacher and life-long student. It challenges me to think about systems and watch process. I like to call Bowen family systems theory the "steward's manual" for how relationships work. If anxiety is one of the life forces that God built into us for thriving and surviving, then systems theory is a lens through which to view and understand that force for our own leadership and for the health of our communities.

Healthy Congregations began as a 501c3 organization in 1996 in Austin, Texas. It moved to Trinity in January 2006. The HC Network includes more than 3,000 people representing 27 denominations in North America, Europe, and Africa, who have been involved in training, leading, coaching or being coached.

Trinity and Bexley Seabury students, faculty, and staff get a taste of what HC offers. They are given opportunities each year to become trained facilitators of Healthy Congregations' six workshops. They can participate in all of the HC programs at little or no cost. A Spring Semester "family of origin" theory and coaching experience is offered each year to seniors, allowing them to develop family and church diagrams to better understand some (!) of the multitude of dynamics that exist in their lives.

The 2013-14 Leadership Series will conclude with a nationally known educator and coach, Priscilla Friesen, offering three presentations on how leaders and organizations express clarity of purpose through collaboration. That event will be held on May 23, and is open to all who register for attendance in Columbus or via live-cast.

I continue to be heartened that I didn't learn everything I needed to know in seminary -- the discoveries along the road to Emmaus and elsewhere are amazing.

Living in the mystery of the word made flesh,

Emlyn A. Ott
Executive Director, Healthy Congregations
Dean of Leadership Formation
Assistant Professor of Ministry and Pastoral Leadership
Trinity Lutheran Seminary