2020 PLC

The NIS Professional Leaders Conference is the key yearly opportunity for synod professional leaders to experience collegiality and connect with what is going on in our Synod, as well as engage in professional development to further their competency in their congregational ministries. All NIS professional leaders (rostered leaders, seminary students, and paid professional congregational leaders) and their spouses are encouraged to come and share in this opportunity.

This year’s PLC planning group is excited to have the Rev. Dr. Emlyn Ott as the presenter. Dr. Ott is the CEO and Director of Healthy Congregations, Inc. “Healthy Congregations is an interfaith organization that understands the times in which we live in. We equip leaders for challenges of thinking more clearly about families, relationships, and faith communities. Our resources and training are based on seeing all communities as living systems that incorporate thinking, feeling, responsibility, and purpose. Healthy Congregations, Inc. has created educational resources and leadership development material designed with the purpose of encouraging healthier, clearer and deeper individual and community life based on the contributions of leaders in the field of Bowen Theory and congregational life.” (from the Healthy Congregations website)

The event will be held over two days, and it will be a combination of online learning, worship, conversation with the Bishop, and fellowship activities.

Keynote Speaker

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The Rev. Dr. Emlyn Ott will be the keynote speaker at the 2020 Professional Leaders Conference, September 21-22, 2020. Her presentations will be offered online in real time during those two days.

Dr. Ott is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has served as a parish pastor, campus minister, pastoral counselor, leader, and seminary professor for over 25 years. She was named CEO and Director of Healthy Congregations, Inc. in 2005.

She holds a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, a Doctor of Ministry from Phillips Theological Seminary, and is a Clinical Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

She has participated for nine years in postgraduate work at the Center for Family Process and the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family and is currently part of Research Group at the Bowen Center.

Emlyn A. Ott is a native of Rochester, New York where her curiosity about life was nurtured in her parents’ truck manufacturing company.

She is an avid reader, especially of new fiction and first-person short stories. She is moving steadily toward a goal of hiking in every national park in the US. She has musical theatre and Schubert lieder on her I-pod and a pile of books are her night table.

Her family home is in Columbus, Ohio where the national offices of Healthy Congregations are located. She commutes to Chicago where she is serving as Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Leadership and Director of Doctor of Ministry Programs at Bexley Seabury Seminary, which focuses on intensive and online pastoral formation.

Emlyn is the spouse of Dr. Robert Ward, Director of Choral Studies at The Ohio State University.

Here are the latest updates and current agenda:

Tentative Schedule


  • 8:45 a.m. “Doors” open on Zoom
  • 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Opening Welcome and Worship, Bishop Clements preaching
  • 9:30 – 9:40 a.m. Break
  • 9:40 – 9:45 a.m. Welcome and Introduction of Dr. Ott
  • 9:45 – 10:30 a.m. Keynote #1 – Dr. Ott — “Big Binoculars”
  • 10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Break – Reflection on the presentation through guided introspection.
  • 10:45 – 11:30 a.m. Keynote #2 “Resources in the Wind”
  • 11:30 am – noon Q & A with Dr. Ott
  • Noon – 12:15 pm Noon Prayer – Pr. Julane Nease
  • 12:15 p.m. Lunch break
  • 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Conversation with Bishop Clements
  • 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. “The Snack Table” fellowship and renewing activities (see description below)


  • 8:45 a.m. “Doors” open on Zoom
  • 9:00 – 9:10 am Opening prayer – Pr. Sarah Wilson — and welcome back
  • 9:10 – 9:55 am Keynote 3 – “Presence and Perspective”
  • 9:55 – 10:10 am Q & A
  • 10:10 – 10:25 am Break
  • 10:25 – 11:15 am “Barefoot in the Sand” case study of a rostered minister/congregation conflict, followed by Q&A
  • 11:15 – 11:30 am Break
  • 11:30 – noon Closing Worship – Pr. Gwen Sefrhans-Murphy
  • 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. “The Snack Table” (see description below)

Free-time Activities for Monday and Tuesday Afternoons

The Snack Table is this year’s version of hanging around with colleagues, as we did when we met in person. You will need to bring your own snacks, but the link to join the “hang out” is the same as the link for the conference.

The Snack Table is where we all will be meeting to either hang out in the large group, or the place where we meet to then go to a smaller group using the breakout room feature.


Pre-Planned Activities


Missing singing together? Pastor Paul Gebo will lead a Sing-a-long. He or anyone who would like to take a turn, will lead favorites, with the leader singing and the rest singing while muted. Time: 1:30 p.m. until sung out.

Missing our chair massages? Do a Spiritual/Heart Massage instead. Ms. Marci Madary, spiritual director, will lead participants through spiritual exercises designed to give the same “ah-ha” feeling we got after a chair massage – or maybe something even better! Thank you, Christ Lutheran Pathway Center for sponsoring this opportunity! Time: 1:30 until approximately 2:30 p.m.

Missing the chance to take a walk around the Mound property? Pr. Frank Langholf will lead a Guided Walk (or Bike or Ride a Horse) and Talk group outdoor experience via your mobile device. Time: 1:30 until tired out.

In need of a little friendly competition? Dn. Shari Trotter will lead the game of Farkle (described as Yahtzee on steroids). You will need to supply your own six dice. Time: 1:30 until approximately 2:30 p.m.

Missing our chair massages, (Part 2)? Do a Spiritual/Heart Massage instead. Ms. Marci Madary, spiritual director, will lead participants through spiritual exercises designed to give the same “ah-ha” feeling we got after a chair massage – or maybe something even better! We still thank the Christ Lutheran Pathway Center for sponsoring this opportunity! Time: 2:45 until approximately 3:45 p.m.

Missing the chance to chat with one or a few of your closest friends that you only see at PLC! Dr. Karin will be glad to provide you a virtual corner to chat. Provide your own comfy chair!

Want talk with someone about a specific topic? Again, Dn. Karin can provide you all with a virtual corner. If you wish to invite others with a similar interest to join, let Dn. Karin know for the Bulletin Board.

To join any of these activities/conversations/etc., be around The Snack Table, and she will open the “door” for you!


The Snack Table will be open at 1 p.m.

Dn. Shari Trotter will lead Scattergories from 2:00 again until participants are DONE. Participants will need their own paper and writing implement.

The “pop-up” chats and conversations will still be available. Let Dn. Karin know if you wish to put out an invitation to others.

The cost to attend 2020 PLC will be $33.00. Register below.

Registration closes at 11:59 pm, Thursday, September 17.