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Learning Events

Compassion, Presence, and Care:

Web-conferenced Basic Training for Pastoral Caregivers

   led by Rev. Wayne E. Gustafson, D.Min. 
Two Saturdays:                       January 12 from 9am-4pm and
                                                   February 9, from 9am-11am 

How do you train your laity to be deacons, Stephen Ministers, parish visitors, or volunteers for other lay pastoral care ministries in your congregation? 

                When parishioners agree to take on one of these roles:

  • Do they sometimes feel anxious or unprepared?
  • Do they wonder if they have the training to know what to say or do?
  • Are they unclear about the opportunities and limitations of the role?
  • Do they find themselves representing the church without knowing what exactly that means?
  • Do they just want to feel more grounded?

Even veteran volunteers can begin to feel stale or overwhelmed and then look to renew their skills.

Compassion, Presence, and Care provides a theological and practical foundation for pastoral caring activities and it is designed to help volunteers improve their competence and confidence. Through presentations, discussions, and small group practice exercises they will learn the opportunities and limitations of lay ministry. Participants will learn to make use of the tools of empathetic engagement, boundary-setting, healthy communication, and a useful technique for assessment and referral. This workshop is open to all who serve (or expect to serve) congregations as deacons, elders, Stephen Ministers, volunteer visitors, or who are interested in the subject. This is basic training, but those who wish to refresh their skills will also find it valuable.


  • $50 per person

  • $45 each if a church sends 4 or more                        button scholarships available

  • $40 each if a church sends 8 or more

Technology: Zoom is the platform we use, because it is simple, even for those who have never web-conferenced before. Participants can join from their home computers or connect together from church. You do not need a zoom account to participate. Webcams are expected, so that we can see each other. If uncertain whether your computer has all it needs to web-conference, email Marjorie Purnine at  to set up a test.


Registration questions:


The Rev. Wayne E. Gustafson, D.Min. is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ,Wayne Gustafson4 a Certified Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York.  Presently, he is a contract pastoral counselor and psychotherapist with Susquehanna Family Counseling Ministry (a mission of the Susquehanna Association, UCC), seeing clients in Ithaca and Watkins Glen. 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 an adjunct instructor in Psychology at Tompkins Cortland Community College. He is the author of two novels, Community of Promise: The Untold Story of Moses, and The Wisdom Weaver, both set around the time of the Exodus( He and his wife, Phebe, live in the Ecovillage at Ithaca. They have one grown son.

Register here.



WebConferenced Winter Learning Event

“The Still Point of the Turning World”: Bringing together Christian Contemplation and Zen Buddhism,

led by Rev. Kaisen Robert Gunn
Feb 2, 10am – 3pm 

Cost $30 

This event provides four hours of continuing education for authorized ministers whose Associations require it.

This event is capped at 25 participants

Registration deadline: January 28

February 2 from 9:00 am-3:00 pmsnowflake2


Fall Learning Event October 26-27 
Grounding our Love: Theological Reflection and Moral Action at the White Eagle Center, Hamilton, New York

During this learning event, ministers and lay leaders were invited to dig into how our theological understandings shape our individual and communal moral actions. They examined various ways to deepen the connection between faith and action in our congregations. Engaging resources from the Poor People’s Campaign, they explored the connections between the Poor People’s Campaigns, theology, and faith communities.


5575 Thompson Rd. • DeWitt, NY 13214 • 315-446-3073 • Fax: 315-446-3076 •