The Center for Leadership Excellence teamed up with Conflict Transformation Ministries to offer a virtual workshop with Richard Blackburn on October 14, 2020.
About the Workshop:
Scapegoating of pastors and other leaders is a common occurrence in churches. The process is mindless, taking on a life of its own, as anxiety spreads from one church member to another. This workshop explored the scapegoating phenomenon from a family systems perspective, while also including theological reflections grounded in the work of René Girard.
During the workshop, we…
- Outlined a congregational case study to review how anxiety plays out in church systems.
- Viewed the scapegoating challenge within the context of Bowen family systems theory’s understanding of unhealthy togetherness forces and the herding instinct.
- Compared René Girard’s understanding of mimetic contagion with the herding instinct as described by systems thinking.
- Illustrated the nature of mimetic contagion through the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, as portrayed by artistic representations of the theme from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern eras.
- Reflected on how to stop the kind of mimetic contagion that can lead to scapegoating in the church, as well as violence in the broader society.
About Richard Blackburn:
Richard Blackburn served as Executive Director of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC), located in the western suburbs of Chicago, from 1984 to 2019. As of January 1, 2020, he serves as LMPC Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant. He is also an ordained minister in the Mennonite church. Prior to his calling to the peace center ministry, Richard taught Art History at Trinity College, Goshen College, and Northern Illinois University, with a specialization in Medieval and Italian Renaissance art. More recently he has taught conflict transformation and mediation skills at Southern Methodist University, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and Goshen College. Richard has led hundreds of workshops on conflict transformation and mediation skills; he has also had broad experience as a mediator and consultant, working primarily with conflicted churches, both at the congregational and judicatory level. The congregational mediation model he developed represents a transformational model of mediation placed within the context of Bowen family systems theory.