Life in Faith Communities During and Beyond the COVID Pandemic: Physical Proximity, Virtual Connections, and Family Systems Theory
The coronavirus has limited the ability of faith communities to gather. This has been the case for nearly one year. Communities have made great efforts to remain in contact using online worship and limited “safe distance” gatherings. Social times, in-person groups, and activities remain largely curtailed.
What can Bowen family systems theory tell us? How do we have the viable emotional contact needed to function well as faith communities? Is physical proximity necessary? Many people speak of too much direct contact with their immediate families while experiencing isolation from others. Some who live alone speak of isolation despite online contact.
We will look at these questions through concepts of Bowen theory: togetherness and individuality, and differentiation of self (which develops in relationship with others). How can we best fulfill our purposes as communities of faith during this time and beyond?
Date: Friday, February 12, 2021
Location: Online via Zoom
About the Faith Leadership Conference
The Faith Leadership Conference is an annual event exploring the challenges and possibilities faced by leaders of faith communities. Each year the conference has a specific focus, and includes presentations on Bowen theory, case studies, and discussion.
Carrie E. Collier, PhD
Director, The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family
Zoom Links and Lawn Chairs: May the Force Be with You
The Rev. Dr. Emlyn A. Ott
The ability to be in meaningful emotional contact with others as well as maintaining a separate presence in relationships is at the heart of Bowen theory. The past year has been a lesson in the “forces” that surround that process. This presentation will explore the ways in which Bowen theory offers perspective in the changing landscape of ministry and leadership.
Faith Communities Adapting to Life in Pandemic and Beyond
The Rev. Edward J. Henley
This presentation will look at physical contact and proximity as part of the viable connections of a faith community. What cultural evolutionary adaptations are taking place in response to the losses of the pandemic? Are these adaptations fruitful for the future? What can Bowen theory tell us?
Seeking Hidden Emotional Process
The Rev. Carol P. Jeunnette, PhD
Where does emotional process go when the building shuts down and worship goes online, to the back lawn or the parking lot? And when emotional process is so hard to see, how can it be nudged to shift toward greater health? Using Bowen theory, this case study presents some of the goals and challenges of an interim pastor/congregational consultant working with a troubled congregation during a global pandemic.
Presentation: Case Study
Rev. Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford
This interview will explore how one Lutheran pastor reflects on her ministry–informed by Bowen theory–with churches from two different socioeconomic communities during challenges presented by the Covid epidemic. Interviewed by Rev. Randall Frost.
Dialogue: Presenters, Colleagues and Participants
Edward J. Henley, MDiv
Edward Henley’s clergy experience includes interim service in twelve congregations, as well as a pastorate of sixteen years. He sees that Bowen theory focuses us on our own growth, and it can give us a way to understand how clergy live and lead in these emotional systems. He continues his service in the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida.
Carol Jeunnette, MDiv, PhD
Seeking congruencies between Bowen theory and theology, and bringing both perspectives together to promote the health of troubled congregations has been a primary focus for Carol Jeunnette, an ELCA pastor. Although technically retired, Carol continues to write and teach, lead the Voyagers group, serve congregations, and assist first-call pastors in learning and using Bowen theory in their work and lives. Carol lives in Racine, Wisconsin.
Emlyn Ott, DMin
The Rev. Dr. Emlyn Ott is an ELCA pastor and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Congregations, Inc., a Bowen theory-based resource organization working with faith communities. She is the Director of Doctor of Ministry Programs and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Leadership at Bexley Seabury Seminary in Chicago, IL.
The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family/Georgetown Family Center is authorized by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners and the District of Columbia Board of Social Work to provide continuing education credit. This program is a Category I offering.
The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family/Georgetown Family Center has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6225. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family/Georgetown Family Center is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
Each conference day provides a maximum of 5 hours of Category I continuing education credit for social workers and for counselors. Attendees must attend the conference live to receive continuing education credit. We do not offer continuing education credit for viewing conference recordings.
If you plan to participate in the CEU/CE process, it is necessary to:
- Pay the CEU/CE fee of $15 prior to the start of the conference
- Attend the entire livestreamed conference
- Enable video so that you are visible throughout the entirety of the conference (except during designated breaks or lunch)
- Submit a completed evaluation
If you have any questions about CEU/CEs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgetown Family Center, Inc.
ACEP No. 6225