Home » Headline, National News

Retreat for church workers and spouses raises curiosity in B.C.

March 26, 2012 No Comment

Rev. Dr. Michael Nel

“Ministry as Curiosity” was the theme of a pilot-project retreat held March 5-7 at Edenvale Retreat Center near Aldergrove, B.C. The retreat, organized by the Committee for the Care of Church Workers and their Families (CCCWF), featured Dr. Michael Nel who encouraged participants to cultivate curiosity about the emotional systems that come into play as church workers engage in ministry and relate to their families. Dr. Nel led sessions on various aspects of Bowen systems theory which gave the fifteen participants from the Vancouver and Fraser Valley Circuits greater insights into the causes of excessive anxiety and burnout.

In a letter encouraging church workers of the circuits to participate in the retreat, Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) President Robert Bugbee noted the importance of an awareness of the emotional dimensions of ministry: “To be sure, we understand that Bowen theory is not the Gospel (or the Law either, for that matter). However, it does point out some emotional processes that are at work as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. These emotional processes are powerful. They can dramatically affect us and our work from within and without. Too often we ignore the emotional side of the work of God’s Kingdom at our peril.”

The CCCWF, whose origins date to the 2000 ABC District convention, has adopted Bowen Systems Theory as a way of being proactive and preventative rather than reactive in the care of church workers. Rev. David Hildermann, consultant to the committee, says: “What I love about Bowen systems theory is that it gets us out of the trap of obsessing over methodology or adding on another program, but instead, gives church workers an understanding of something that will help them decide how to manage themselves.”

The retreat was planned as a pilot project to evaluate it as a model for other retreats across LCC. Chair of the committee, Rev. Harry Haberstock says, “The challenge set before our committee is how to address church worker care for Lutheran Church–Canada on a very limited budget. The committee was very happy with the feedback that was received on this pilot project as a model for future retreats.” One participant shared, “This was a very beneficial event, not only for personal and family growth, but also for professional help in the parish.” Another stated, “It was the most beneficial session I have attended as a pastor’s wife.”

While the retreat was a pilot project initiated by the CCCWF, it also became an opportunity for cooperation with a taskforce of the ABC District. The Taskforce for Church Worker, Spouse and Family Care approached the CCCWF about having pastor’s wives invited to the retreat. As a result several wives were able to attend, and together with their husbands, grow in understanding emotional health.

Due to the success of the pilot project, future regional retreats are being planned. Edmonton will be the site for the next retreat in the fall of 2012. In 2013 the retreat will shift to the East District, and the Central District in 2014. The Committee will be looking for circuits willing to host future retreats. Congregations and circuits who are interested may contact chairman Rev. Harry Haberstock (hhaber@shaw.ca).

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.