New York Conference UCC

Family Systems and Pastoral Leadership

Rev. Wayne E. Gustafson, D.Min., LMHC, Instructor


Wednesday evenings: Jan 19, 26; Feb 2, 9, 16, 23; March 9, 16, 23


from 6:30-8:45 pm (the first session is 6:30-9 pm)


Registration Deadline: Extended through January 10, 2022


Course Description:


This course makes use of Bowenian Family Systems Theory to view the functional emotional process of congregational systems and to lay the foundation for non-anxious leadership and pastoral care.  It will also focus on how Family Systems Theory helps pastors be as healthy as they can be in ministry and how they can use their personal process of “differentiation” to maximize their leadership capacities in congregations.


Utilizing theoretical and practical perspectives, the course encourages participants to broaden their picture and understanding of how groups like religious institutions and their local congregations have a characteristic response to the inevitable challenges and crises of life. The course will utilize Family Systems Theory and personal biographical material as the participants explore the interface between personal “family of origin stories” and congregational functioning.  The course will explore some of the practical ways that “family of origin” groups can be valuable in parish work. The course will consist of lectures, discussion, practice exercises, and consultation on actual pastoral and counseling situations brought by faculty and participants.

Authorized ministers are encouraged to audit this course to meet their Association’s continuing education requirements. While Auditors are not required to write the 10 page paper, they might find it useful. Auditors are, however, expected to provide a written case study and to participate fully in small group exercises. This course does not prepare participants for the practice of professional pastoral counseling and/or pastoral psychotherapy.

 Required Reading

Richardson, Ronald W., Creating a Healthier Church.  Fortress Press, 1996

            ISBN    0-8006-2955-8


Richardson, Ronald W., Becoming a Healthier Pastor.  Fortress, 2005

            ISBN    0-8006-3639-2


Steinke, Peter L., Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times.  Alban, 2006

            ISBN    1-56699-328-8


Course Fees for NY Conference Participants:

Credit $250, Audit $175, Repeat Course Audit $100

Course Fees for Participants Not from the NY Conference

Credit $275, Audit $200.  An additional $70 will be charged for the Distance Learning Support Fee.

Distance Learning Support Fee
Distance Learning requires technological support. The NY Conference provides that support for its participants; we ask other UCC Conferences and participating denominations to provide that support for their participants. When Non-NY Conference participants register, we recommend that they ask their UCC Conferences or denominations to contribute the distance learning support fee. If no wider church support is available, the Distance Learning Support Fee is the participant's responsibility.

Scholarships are available.  Contact Marjorie Purnine at

This course requires a $75 deposit at the time of registration

and the balance is due on February 2.


The Rev. Wayne E. Gustafson, D.Min. LMHW is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Psychotherapist in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York.  Dr. Gustafson is a graduate of Cornell University with a BA in Chemistry and has Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (Psychology and Clinical Studies) degrees from Andover Newton Theological School. He teaches Pastoral Care courses for the New York School of Ministry and leads workshops for clergy and laity. He has also been a Prison Chaplain, an Interim Minister, and an Adjunct Instructor in Psychology at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Technology: This course uses the platform Zoom. You do not need to have a Zoom account to participate in the course. You do need to have a webcam (which, if your computer does not have one, can be purchased for about $30 at stores like Target). If you have questions about video-conferenced courses or you would like to set up a test to see how Zoom works on your computer, please email Marjorie Purnine, Dean of the New York School of Ministry, at

1/19/2022 6:30 PM - 3/23/2022 8:45 PM
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Rev. Marjorie Purnine
315-446-3073 ext. 7
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