Resilient Minister: Renewing Self, Renewing Ministry

The Church of the 21st Century requires resilient leaders for healthy, vibrant parishes.  Resilience is more than being able to bounce back in response to adversity.  Dr. Gail Wagnild has studied resilience for over 25 years and says that resilient individuals have the capacity to choose and live a vital and authentic life.  It is in that spirit that we launch this new initiative for pastoral leaders who are eager to live out their vocational call in the midst of change.

images of rocks

RESILIENT MINISTER requires a six month commitment involving an initial introductory workshop and five follow-up peer group sessions that introduce the theory, principles, and practices essential to becoming more resilient.  The process balances the needs of the individual for developing a greater capacity to thrive in the midst of change and the anxiety it provokes and the needs for leadership in parishes and other ministries that fosters the health of the community.

 RESILIENT MINISTER has several key outcomes:

  • To study, interpret, and adapt the insights of systems theory to the context and unique characteristics of parish life.
  • To evaluate individuals' strengths and challenges for dealing with the dynamics of systemic change and the accompanying anxiety it raises for individual, community, and the whole system.
  • To learn skills essential for maintaining one's health and balance in "anxious systems" and for leading for the greater good of the community.
  • To draw on scripture and theology for grounding resilient leadership.

RESILIENT MINISTER is an advanced resource for clergy and lay ecclesial ministers who serve in various pastoral leadership roles in parishes, schools, and other institutional settings. 

Printable PDF Flyer 

Register online


1.      Resilient Minister Workshop (November 9, 2013)
               St. Michael's Parish, Duluth, Minnesota  9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

2.      Resilient Minister Peer Group

  • Participants in the workshop form small groups of peers (6-8) that will meet five times in the following six months.
  • Each peer session will be facilitated by Barbara Sutton or Victor Klimoski and meet from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (lunch included) at a central location convenient to group members.
  • Group members will read Ronald Richardson's, Creating a Healthier Church: Family Systems Theory, Leadership and Congregational Life.
  • Each session will explore a topic focused on creating healthy, resilient parishes from the perspective of the individual pastoral minister and of the parish community.  Sessions combine critical reflection on theory in light of group members' experience.    Topics include: 
            - Creating healthy, resilient parishes
            - Responding to change and anxiety
            - Leading for community health and resiliency
            - Fostering relationships for resilient parishes
            - Providing spiritual care for resilient parishes
  • Group participants commit to respecting the confidentiality of sessions, to contributing to the creation of insight and knowledge by sharing their experience and perspectives, and to resist the temptation to focus on lament and complaint.
  • Each participant will pay a fee of $200 to help cover the costs of the workshop, resources and refreshments; members from the same parish can receive a group rate.  The fee covers the cost of the Richardson.  The balance of costs will be underwritten by the new Conversatio Endowment.

Individuals who need assistance with the fee are encouraged to apply to the Ministry Fund of the School of Theology.

To register or for information about the Ministry Fund, please contact Barbara Sutton ( or 320-363-3052)

  Register online