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What’s in a name? Introducing Congremap

Meet Congremap: Congregational Systems Consulting. The new name, Congremap, sums up the mission better than the previous name. Congogram was intended to connect to a family systems tool called a Genogram, but most people imagined drums in the jungle. Congregations: Congremap is a service for congregations, including churches of any denomination, synagogues, meeting houses and […]

Clergy Study Fridays 2017-2018

“Family Systems Patterns at Home and Church” with Rev. Dr. Lynn M. Acquafondata, LMHC 9:30-2:30 With 45 min. lunch break 1010 East Ave next to Asbury First United Methodist Church (red brick building), Rochester, NY   Sept. 29th:          Family Systems Patterns at Home and in the Congregation Jan. 12th:            Leading […]

Connecting to Power in Healing Ways: What Native American Youth Can Teach Us

Connection is a key component of power. But not all connection, nor all power is equal. We can build positive connections in our own lives and help others gain access to constructive and life giving aspects of power when we work towards mutuality, respect, and an understanding of balance. A Native American youth movement which […]

Clergy Study Fridays in Rochester

  Clergy Study Fridays are an opportunity for ordained clergy of any faith to learn, reflect and share with professionals who face similar joys and challenges. When we set aside time to personally and spiritually strengthen ourselves, we are better able to serve others. Study days in February and March are aimed at education, self-reflection […]

When Social Media Interferes with Spiritual Values

The use of social media by churches and congregations can increase outreach and connection with a wide audience. However it can also lead to some spiritual missteps that damage religious communities and turn us away from our values. It’s easy to set aside religious wisdom when using email, Facebook and Twitter. With one click and […]

Conflict Resolution Basics in Three Steps

Conflict is a part of all relationships though we often think of it as disagreements or differences of opinion. Conflict doesn’t have to be divisive, but instead it can provide an opportunity for growth and development. Following these conflict resolution steps can stimulate positive responses and behaviors to unfold. Whenever two or more people are […]

The Season of Returning

Summer is over. We return to routines. We leave our separate homes, drive from a variety of neighborhoods towards the same place to share common values, to seek community. And yet we live different lives, have divergent perspectives, draw from varied experiences. We come together from our diverse circles. We want to worship with others, […]

Systems Class For Working Professionals

All in a System:  The Power of Congregation, Family and Community Join clergy, lay-leaders, community organizers and counselors in a unique learning experience this Spring at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y. The Rev. Dr. Lynn Acquafondata will teach the theory of family, congregational and community systems, as well as tools for managing conflict […]

Grounding Self and Congregation In the Midst of Turmoil

Aren’t congregations supposed to be peaceful havens amidst the turmoil of life? At their best congregations take the conflicts and struggles from the world and transform them in healing and productive ways. But in order to do this, they need to connect to the violence, betrayal and despair in our world. The most transformative congregations […]

How to Think in Systems: It’s All in the Questions

Listen/Watch Here.   What if, when you felt irritated or angry with someone, you stopped yourself from asking the question, “What’s wrong with them?” Instead you strove to ask this question. “What’s going on with me that I’m reacting this way?” If you asked the second question, you would be thinking in systems instead of […]

Companion and Companioning Prayer…

This prayer is a response prayer to go with the “Furious Prayer for the Church….” by Brian Doyle, novelist, essayist, and poet.  Furious Prayer for the Church I Love and Have Always Loved but Which Drives Me Insane with Its Fussy Fidgety Prim Tin-Eared Thirst for Control and Rules and Power and Money Rather Than the […]

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Like an Oak: Clergy and Caregiver Boundaries

Be like an oak tree when reaching out to help people in need. Have strong roots, a solid and clearly defined trunk, and branches that reach out but don’t get intertwined. Learn how to bend in the wind, but don’t let yourself sway so far that you topple over. An oak tree is a good […]

Be a Grounding Presence Not a Non-Anxious One

It’s better to be a grounding presence than a non-anxious presence. For decades, systems sages have taught the worthy goal of facing the stresses and uncertainties of family, congregational and organizational life by managing one’s personal anxiety. The problem arises when we promote the concept with an overused catch phrase that makes my stomach churn […]

Love + Honesty + Self-Reflection = Good Leadership

This straightforward equation fosters good leadership: Love, plus honesty, plus self-reflection. Straightforward doesn’t mean easy. Making use of the equation in the midst of leadership challenges can require hard work and conscious effort. Here’s a look at the elements of the equation. Love In this context love means appreciation, respect and a deep sense of […]

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How to Stop Stressing Out About Your Own Anxiety

A simmering conflict surfaces in a dynamic organization I recently joined. I thought everything was running smoothly and now I hear about tension, factions, blaming, secrets. I feel my gut lurch. It all sounds so familiar. But the real panic sets in when I start stressing about my own response. I’m supposed to be a […]

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Tools for Authentic Personal Change in Relationship

Every time I walk into an appointment with a counseling client I know that I may be changed in some way by the encounter. Usually the changes are subtle, but sometimes I am changed in deeply significant and meaningful ways. One cannot be in an authentic relationship with anyone without being open and willing to […]

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Growing Light in the World from the Inside Out

  Hanukkah candles, Advent candles, multi-colored Christmas lights, Kwanzaa lights, Yule fires and –the Inner Flashlight. From a systemic perspective, holidays are an opportune time to add to the religious and spiritual lights by shining a light within our souls. Shining this Inner Flashlight does not always promise immediate joy and contentment, but it can […]

Going Home for the Holidays With Intention

Holidays draw people home, sometimes physically, sometimes just in spirit or memory. From a systems perspective, home is a rich place for initiating substantive personal growth and development. In addition to connecting with family, holidays can also be a time of returning to one’s religious roots in a variety of ways, another fertile ground for […]

Creating a Non-Anxious Disaster in Five Steps

None of us sets out to fail when we start projects, create programs and engage in human relationships, but we all do mess up from time to time. That’s why learning how to create a non-anxious disaster is a valuable skill. Making mistakes is a natural part of being human. It is an essential component […]

What is Ministry?

Written for the ordination the Reverend Michelle Yates George 11/1/15 It does not take ordination to make you a minister. You are already in so many ways a minister. And yet there is much more. Ministering to others isn’t the exclusive domain of ordained clergy. Many people in and out of our congregations engage ministry in […]

The Systems Paradox

A systems perspective emphasizes both interconnections and communal ownership, as well as individual responsibility in organizations and families. Individuals do not act, interact and respond in isolation, but as part of the larger system that has developed and is perpetuated over time. No one individual is responsible for how an organization or a family as […]

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When You Become Stuck, Play!

Have you ever been stuck in life? Maybe you kept repeating the same conflictual patterns with a partner or family member. Or you faced a complex situation and could see only one solution, and that option was impossible. I’ve developed a game that I like to use myself, and one I advocate for people who are […]

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An Over-Functioner’s Guide: Getting Others to Work

What if you are the person in your organization who takes on more responsibility for getting things done than anyone else? What if you are tired? Here are strategies to get others to step forward and contribute. Do these thoughts sound familiar? “Why is everyone dragging their feet on this important project?” “It seems like […]

Get Rid of the Disruptive Member? Nine Techniques to Address the Issue.

Many congregations face the challenge of a disruptive member. Here are some good guidelines to follow in deciding how to respond, keeping in mind that not every situation is equal. A typical situation involves a person who joins a congregation and quickly gets involved on committees. Members are welcoming but they soon find that this […]

Playing With the Roles of Leadership

In one day you may see me in multiple outfits including a blouse and dress pants, a tank top and shorts, a skirt and jacket, a robe and stole, or a vintage dress. While wearing each of these outfits I hold a different title: mental health counselor, colleague, mother, wife, leader, church member, clergy, home-owner, […]