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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

  • $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: contact NYSOM’s clerk, Rev. Leigh McCaffrey, at


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.


Fall Learning Event October 26-27
at the White Eagle Center, Hamilton, New York
Grounding our Love: Theological Reflection and Moral Action
What scripture grounds your ministry? 
What scripture grounds your church’s ministry?
During this learning event, ministers and lay leaders will be invited to dig into how our theological understandings shape our individual and communal moral actions. We’ll examine various ways to deepen the connection between faith and action in our congregations. Engaging resources from the Poor People’s Campaign, we’ll explore the connections between the Poor People’s Campaigns, theology, and faith communities.
Rev. Beth DuBois is a Presbyterian pastor who serves the SouthValley Presbyterian Church in Syracuse.  In the course of her ministry in Syracuse, she has had the opportunity to work with several denominations (UCC, UMC, ELCA) and non-profits (L’Arche Syracuse, Interfaith Works and Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism).  She is a Princeton Theological Seminary graduate and lifelong learner. She is currently working as a Mission Developer with Appleseed Outreach, as well as continuing her work with SouthValley Presbyterian Church.
Check in is at 4 pm (the event begins with dinner)
 Shared Double: $115     Single Room: $165    Commuter Rate: $70
Financial Aid is available        

There are just a few spots left! 

Watch for: WebConferenced Winter Learning Event February 2 from 9:00 am-3:00 pmsnowflake2



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