Spiritual Leadership Today

Spiritual Leadership Today

Plumb the depths of leadership in ministry in the diverse and intellectually challenging community at Drew Theological School. Interactive workshops help lay or clergy leaders of faith communities develop tools and practices to meet contemporary challenges in ministry. Whether you are seeking to deepen your knowledge, broaden your skills, or achieve CEU credit, Drew Theological School Center for Lifelong Learning is ready to equip you for success.

Topics for the 2016-2017 academic year range from leveraging your personality type for leadership to facilitating small group ministries, from grief counseling to cultivating joy.

  • Time: 9:00am – noon
  • Cost: $25 per workshop (fees include refreshments). Enter coupon code DREWTHEO for a 20% discount if you register by August 14th. Seminarians are eligible at no cost, but prior registration is required.
  • CEU: One continuing Education Unit is available with the completion of any three workshops for an additional cost of $35; two units are available upon completion of all six workshops for an additional cost of $70.

Register for Workshops


Fall 2016 Workshop Details

September 23, 2016 – Becoming a Spiritual Elder: Exploring Life’s Passages with Grace and Glory

Seminary Hall, Room 205

Rabbi Deb Smith

Growing older is not so easy — we all know that!  Our culture does not celebrate our years of life experience, nor teach us how to harvest our wisdom, resolve our past or look to our future with possibility and strength.  Join us for as we explore how to embrace our aging journey with new dimensions and choices for a fuller life. 

Together we will:

  • Embrace our age-ing journey
  • Examine our own mortality
  • Do a “life repair” (re-visit and come to terms with unresolved relationships)
  • Do forgiveness and healing work
  • Raise questions about the purpose and meaning of our lives and where we fit in
  • Give voice to our fear about losing our independence and of death
  • Develop a way to be a Spiritual Guide and Wisdom Keeper for others

Join us for a unique opportunity to explore your life as a sacred journey. This workshop is appropriate for those of all faiths and religious backgrounds.

Smith, DebAbout Rabbi Deb:

Rabbi Debra Smith (Reb Deb) received Rabbinic Ordination through the ALEPH Jewish Renewal Rabbinical Seminary. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Philadelphia. She is the founding Rabbi and spiritual leader of Or Ha Lev Jewish Renewal Congregation in Morris County, New Jersey. She is also a Clinical Social Worker and Multicultural Family Therapist.

Reb Deb has served as Director of a private clinical practice, “Human Solutions,” for more than ten years and was also Director of Counseling Services at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ. She worked at Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work in the Department of Continuing Education and Professional Studies, where she provided professional training to social workers and other mental health professionals. She was founder and served as Chairperson of the Ethics Committee for the National Association of Social Workers New Jersey Chapter for seven years.

Her post graduate training at the Multicultural Family Institute of New Jersey has provided Reb Deb with specialized skills and a unique perspective in working with intermarried couples and  multicultural families. An area of special skill and interest for Reb Deb has been working with seniors as a spiritual leaders and as an educator. One of the most sought after courses of study Reb Deb has done with seniors has been her course in Spiritual Eldering.

A major focus of Reb Deb’s work is Deep Ecumenism and multi-faith dialogue. She currently serves as co-chair of the NJ Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee and is a co-chair of the Morris County NJ chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam-Shalom.

She has served as Scholar in Residence at several local churches where she has taught classes on a variety of topics in Judaism. She also co-facilitates Jewish-Christian dialogue sessions and Jewish-Muslim dialogues with local pastors and imams.

Reb Deb is part of the Community Fellows cohort at the Drew University Theological Seminary in NJ.

She is a member of OHALAH, Organization of Trans-denominational Rabbis, where she serves on the Ethics Committee.

She is the Editor and a contributing author of Every Tallit Tells a Tale.

October 7 – Measurable Means for Making the Most of Marriage: Using Evidence-based Tools to Understand, Repair, and Strengthen Marriages

Seminary Hall Room 205

Dr. Charlie McNeil, L.M.F.T.

This class will offer objective and research-demonstrated, evidence-based, effective tools for working on one’s “Relationship House” from regular maintenance, to repairs, to renovations, and/or total overhauls. Not just based on opinions or well-intentioned suggestions, the material  presented comes from the art and science behind happy, healthy, satisfying, and fulfilling relationships distilled from empirical studies carried out for over 40 years by relationship researchers, psychologists, and marriage and family therapists at the Gottman Institute.

During the class, behaviors that are counter-productive, like “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” (which can accurately predict divorce) will be identified (with their appropriate antidotes); as well as seven practical, proven, principles for making marriage work, grow, and thrive (regardless of being same-sex or hetero marriages or couples living together).

McNeil, CharlieWhether to get some good information, tools, and assistance for your own relationship; to be a resource for friends; or to help parishioners and enhance your own pastoral marriage counseling; this class will offer practical, down-to-earth information to enhance marriages (made in heaven or not) with the spirit of a scientist and the soul of a romantic.

About Charlie:

Dr. Charlie McNeil, L.M.F.T. is in private practice as a Psychotherapist and Marriage and Family Therapist (licensed since 1983). A Drew alum (M.Div. ’78 and D.Min. ’79), he also holds degrees from Grove City College (B.A. in Psychology and Religion) and Seton Hall University (Ed.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy). He is a Clinical Fellow in AAMFT, an ordained United Methodist minister (retired from the GNJAC after serving under appointment for over 30 years), and an Adjunct at Drew University. He and his wife, Jane McKeever, live in Allamuchy, NJ.

October 22 – “Leading Interactive Bible Studies—L.I.B.S.™”

Seminary Hall Room 205

Rev. Gina Jacobs-Strain
Elaine W. Cody

cody“Leading Interactive Bible Studies” (L.I.B.S.™) is a 3-hour workshop designed to enhance your Bible teaching tool kit, so that all participants in your Bible Study Classes will be inspired to persist in study and personal application of the word of God. Together we will dialog about ways to make Bible study both relevant and accessible. You will utilize the L.I.B.S.™ template which will facilitate your preparation, presentation, and creativity as you are led by the Holy Spirit to create a mini- Bible Study. Each participant will share the mini-Bible Study and receive feedback from classmates and workshop leaders. Pastors, new Drew grads, Sunday School Superintendents, Ministers of Christian Education, and those that desire to illuminate the word of God, please come and join us for a morning of sharing and practice. Come discover ways to engage all age groups and varied types of learners.

About Elaine:

Elaine W. Cody fell in love with the Word of God at her first reading. Being driven by the desire to share what she learned with others, she took classes to learn how to study the Bible correctly. As the years passed, Elaine added to her repertoire retreat workshops for women, writing Bible studies for adult women and writing devotionals. One of her devotionals recently appeared inTestify, An ABCNJ Devotional published by the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey©2015.

Elaine’s passion is biblical literacy. Currently, she is pursuing a Certificate in Theology and Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. In addition, she is a speaker, writer, and life coach. Having collaborated with Rev. Gina Jacobs-Strain on Bible studies for ten years, Elaine strives to positively impact both leader and congregant for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Jacobs-Strain, GinaAbout Gina:

Reverend Gina C. Jacobs-Strain serves as the Associate Regional Pastor for Women in Ministry for American Baptist Churches of New Jersey (ABCNJ) and as an Associate Minister of Christian Education at St. Paul Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ.  She lectures, leads Bible Study, and preaches at Nyack College where she is the Department Chair of Developmental Education.  Rev. Jacobs-Strain contributes articles and essays to the ABC-NJ Women in Ministry BLOG. She has served as a guest preacher/lecturer at Drew University Theological School, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, ABC-NJ Academy and the Wellness Lounge Webcast. She recently contributed to “Testify: ABC-NJ Devotional” book released in 2015.  

She loves the Lord and Jesus Christ has been at the center of her life since she was 9 years old.  She is married to Clifton Strain and they have three sons and reside in South Orange, N.J.

Reverend Jacobs-Strain earned a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University and graduated from Drew University’s Theological School Magna Cum Laude with a Masters of Divinity. She also received the Old Testament Studies Scholar Award from the Biblical Studies Department. In 2016 she received a Certificate of Excellence from Palmer Theological Seminary & ABC-NJ Academy. She will graduate from Nehemiah Leadership Program in 2017 and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Ministry at Duke Divinity School.  

November 4 – Mindfulness and Technology

Seminary Hall Room 205

Gamin Bartle

The web site Statistica projects that 2.08 billion people worldwide will own a smartphone this year. There are certainly many wonderful uses for these smartphones and other technology devices — features that connect us to one another, provide help in an emergency, and put the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. Smartphone ownership is increasing exponentially in developing countries, giving millions access to resources that were unimaginable not that many years ago. And yet, there are dangers of technology overuse. Virtually everywhere you look, people are looking down at screens instead of looking up: at other people, at the world around them, even at traffic. Voices of warning about the effects of too much technology use are getting louder and more insistent.

This workshop provides a collaborative space in which participants will address issues surrounding mindfulness and technology. Our common goal will be to formulate practical strategies for using technology intentionally, mindfully and thoughtfully in our lives and work. Strategies in these three areas work together to foster active choices in using technology, balance between screentime and “real” life, and more peaceful and successful personal interactions when communicating via technology.

  • Intentionality:  choosing how we spend our screentime, what we do with technology, and how we can think critically about technology use;
  • Mindfulness: balancing other areas in our lives with screentime, feeling at ease with how much time we spend on our devices, and finding ways to encourage others to be mindful in their own technology use;
  • Thoughtfulness: realizing how we affect others with our online behaviors; choosing to be more thoughtful in our expectations of immediate responses, and creating “rules of technology behavior” that encourage better personal interactions and relationships.

This presentation will suggest ways to use technology to connect rather than distance us from each other. Modeling intentionality, mindfulness and thoughtfulness in our digital lives could inspire people around us and our wider communities to do the same.

About Gamin:

Gamin Bartle is Senior Director of Instructional Technology and User Services at Drew University. She has worked in the field of Instructional Technology since 1996, and has worked at Drew since 2005. She worked with Language Learning Technologies at the University of Virginia and the University of Alabama (Birmingham and Tuscaloosa). Upon her arrival at Drew, Gamin broadened the scope of her work to encompass Instructional Technology in general Gamin feels strongly that it is incumbent on technologists like herself to be critical thinkers about how technology is used in both useful and harmful ways by people of all walks of life. She is currently researching and writing about mindfulness and technology. Her passion is encouraging people to take notice of how they spend time with technology, how this balances with their non-technology time, and how their use of technology impacts their lives and our society as a whole. The goal of this work is to identify concrete, workable strategies for people to be intentional, mindful, and thoughtful about their technology use.

November 19 – Cross-Cultural Appointments

Seminary Hall Room 205

Vanessa Wilson

Christ, Conversation and a Good Cup of Coffee:  Cultural Competency for Serving, Surviving and Thriving in a Cross Racial and/or Cross-Cultural Appointment©

vwilsonParagraph 425.4 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline states “Cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments are made as a creative response to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the church and in its leadership.  Cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments are appointments of clergypersons to congregations in which the majority of their constituencies are different from the clergyperson’s own racial/ethnic and cultural background.  ”   Yet in some situations neither the pastor nor lay leadership in these congregations are provided with tools to enable both the pastor and congregation to benefit from this “creative response”.  This workshop will explore intercultural communication as the primary tool for a mutually beneficial cross-racial and/or cross-cultural experience.  Looking through the lens of cultural competency, we will discuss self-assessment, congregational assessment and provide participants with strategies to create scared space for conversations about race and culture.  This workshop is appropriate for clergy serving or exploring serving in a cross-racial and/or cross-cultural setting regardless of denominational affiliation.

About Vanessa:

The Reverend Vanessa M. Wilson serves as the Senior Pastor of Magnolia Road United Methodist Church in Pemberton, N.J., a cross-racial and cross-cultural appointment.  She is the Chairperson of the United Methodist Greater New Jersey Commission on Religion and Race.  A second career pastor, she has extensive leadership experience in higher education, nonprofit and faith-based organizations and provides consulting, training, facilitating and coaching in Strategic Planning, Nonprofit/Faith-based Organization Management, Human Resources and Cultural Competence.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning and Community Development from Rutgers University and a Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University Law School. Additionally, she has studied Business Administration at the graduate level and has a Certificate in Global Business Practices.  She is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity at Drew University Theological School.