Report to Governing Council September, 2016 -- by Raymond J. Lawrence, General Secretary

17 Oct 2016 1:21 PM | Krista Argiropolis (Administrator)

I want to thank all those who have volunteered so much of their time performing essential tasks for this community. We have prospered for over a quarter century because of volunteer labor. I especially want to single out, Charles Kirby our Treasurer, Orville Brown, Chair of Annual Chapter Recertification, Perry Miller and his Communications Committee. They are inaugurating a cyber program, Chaplaincy Alive, with Susan McDougal as host. Medicus Rentz has created our first ever Finance Committee, which is analyzing our cash flow and prognosticating our future financial condition. Many of us have toiled away, but none of the rest of us have spent so many uncompensated hours dealing with complex and intractable problems as Cynthia Olson, Chair of the Accreditation Oversight Committee and Jonathan Freeman Chair of Certification. These are huge, complex, and critical tasks and we are grateful to them for their service to us.

After several years of hard work on Accreditation, Cynthia has asked to have the baton passed to someone else. We thank her for hard work, her leadership, and her perpetual good spirit. I don't think I have worked with anyone ever before who has been so immediately available and so consistently of good humor in the face of tough decisions. Cynthia is the real thing. And we will have other more personally rewarding waiting tasks to be put into her hands.

I have appointed Al Henager to succeed Cynthia as Chair of Accreditation. He has agreed and we should all thank him for that. I of course refrained from telling him what he is getting into. But he'll find out soon enough. This job will either make him great or kill him.

I have appointed Francine Hernandez, David Roth, Perry Miller and Jim Degrado to the Plenary Planning Committee, with Degrado as chair. They are currently completing those plans.

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Never before has there been such energy and activity across the community as we have had the last 18 months, which I believe is attributable to our new By-Laws which encourage participation in decision-making and determining the direction of this community.

I want to express my thanks to Bill Scar for his leadership as President. He has put himself into the task with energy and imagination. His innovative occasional Notes to the community have enriched us all. We expect continuing leadership from him as an elder statesman when his term runs out in six months.

I want to thank our only two paid staff, Krista Argiropolis and Charles Hicks. Each of them has carried very heavy loads over the past six months, and their energy and commitment have been instrumental in keeping together as a community.

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I have requested for Charles Hicks to set up the legal framework for a CPSP Publishing House for the publishing of books. The impetus of this is David Roth's stunning acquisition through his own initiative of the publishing rights to Anton Boisen's writings. We expect that the republication of these out-of-print books will be the first thing on the agenda.  This will be a huge contribution to the clinical pastoral movement as a whole. The fact that Boisen's books have been out of print for a generation or more is strange phenomenon, and a disgrace. It suggests that pastoral clinicians have stopped reading Boisen, just as Lutherans have stopped reading Luther, and the Methodists have stopped reading Wesley, to their great loss. And with a press in place we can publish other writings as well. Robert Powell's rich works need to be republished in a form that is easy to access. This initiative will have a substantive impact on the entire clinical pastoral field, and enable us to promote our unique philosophy of clinical pastoral work more effectively. And I thank David for moving us in this direction.

I am appointing David Roth as Editor-in-Chief of the CPSP Publishing House, and am appointing as members of the Editorial Board: Charles Hicks, Robert Powell, Perry Miller, Cynthia Olson, Brian Childs, Bill Scar, Francine Hernandez, George Hull, Bill Alberts, Belen Gonzales and David Moss. There will undoubtedly be others who will need to be added to this board as time goes on. The structure and terms of this publishing venture will be worked out later. However, one critical objective is to have the Boisen books in hand in time for the March Plenary.

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Eric Hall, recently appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN), announced earlier this year that HCCN was creating a new subsidiary organization carrying the label Spiritual Care Association (SCA). The objective of this initiative as we understand it is, among others, that of bringing together the disparate groups in the field of pastoral care and counseling. At the HCI annual gathering in San Diego in the spring, where Eric Hall unveiled the new organization, he approached David Roth and signaled that he wanted a meeting with CPSP leadership, and David communicated that message to me. Subsequently I appointed Perry Miller, Brian Childs, and Charles Hicks to join me in conversations with Eric and members of his staff. We have had several discussions, both in person and electronically.

I think I speak for others on our team in reporting that Eric Hall seems to be the real thing. He is gracious, generous, conciliatory, negotiable, and I believe he understands what CPSP represents and what we are committed to, as well as what we would not want to be involved in.

The introduction of a new player in the larger clinical pastoral movement seems to me to bode well. I have hopes that it will result in more serious conversation and debate in the movement at large, and that this initiative will open more candid and generous conversation in the wider clinical pastoral world. I think I speak for my colleagues who have been in conversation with Eric when I say that. Furthermore, we understand that his principal objective is to create a multi-organizational association. And that seems to us to be a promising direction. While it is not entirely clear what shape all this might take, his vision of a big tent is commendable.

He also proposes that SCA itself certify clinician chaplains. How that initiative will mesh with CPSP is not yet clear. Certainly we can have no objection to his organization offering certification. We have had lengthy discussions with him about his proposed process of certification.  And it is noteworthy that Eric listens to us when we have made suggestions and criticisms.

The five of us who have been in conversation with Eric Hall believe that it will serve our interests to build some kind of working alliance with Eric and SCA, and we propose to move in that direction.

We have made no official agreement with him, but we like what he says, what he is, and what he has done thus far.

Perry has pointedly observed that Eric Hall is shaking up the larger clinical pastoral world - the current stalemate - and we certainly cannot be opposed to that. We welcome it. I believe the five of us concur in that regard.

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Someone - I believe it was Santayana - once said that those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. I want to set Eric Hall and the SCA phenomenon in historical context.

Please indulge me for a moment a few words of reflection on history. I think it is relevant.

The encounter of two radically different personalities was the occasion of the creation of the clinical pastoral movement almost a century ago: an egotistic physician and preeminent clinician, Richard Cabot of the Boston Cabots, and a sometime psychotic and dissident Presbyterian/Congregationalist minister, Anton Boisen. Boisen was inspired by his own personal history of psychosis, and later his study of Sigmund Freud's writings, and his inspiration led him to undertake the training of ministers in therapeutic work with disturbed persons. He sought out Cabot to acquire expertise in the clinical method. With Cabot's assistance Boison got off to an impressive start in 1925. He was joined immediately by a psychiatric genius, Helen Flanders Dunbar, and soon by several others. They radically changed theological education forever. In the fifth year of this incipient movement its leaders, in the very same year that they had incorporated, separated into two camps on not-so-friendly terms. In one camp following Anton Boisen was Helen Flanders Dunbar, Carroll Wise and others, who continued to constitute the Council for Clinical Training. In the rebel camp was Richard Cabot, Philip Guiles, Russell Dicks and others, ultimately constituting what in 1944 officially became Institute for Pastoral Care.

As it turned out, against all expectations, (and this is my point) these two competing and philosophically opposed groups enriched each other through trenchant debate for a generation. Once the heat was turned down a little, after a couple of years, their different ways of seeing things and their opposing approaches to training enriched each other, and kept each other honest.

The two groups eventually merged in 1967 to form the ACPE.  And the movement has gone downhill since.

My contention is that the period 1930-1967 was the golden age of the clinical pastoral movement. The conversation and competition between the Council and Institute was intense - and not entirely friendly - but ultimately it was respectful, and through the years each group evolved in significant ways. Both groups were held in esteem by the seminaries and the various religious communities. But most importantly, they learned from each other.

I also contend that the merger of the two in 1967 was a error of historic proportions, putting an end to serious dialogue and establishing group-think in its place. And the merger - and the univocal result - prepared the necessity for the emergence of CPSP in 1990.

But CPSP has not succeeded in restoring the dialogue of what I call that golden age, 1930-1967. It has met a wall of resentment over the fact that we broke the unity. The years of 1990 to the present have been years of bitterness over the destruction of the sacred monolith.

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So now comes the wild card, Eric Hall. I propose that he may be able to do what CPSP has not been able to do, bring all parties back into dialogue, with mutual respect and mutual criticism. And criticism is the life blood of any authentic clinician.

Therefore I propose to continue our conversations with Eric Hall and the SCA and to join with them in any way we can as long as our integrity is protected. I emphasize that we are not at the stage of closing any monumental deal, but rather in the beginning of what I see as and certainly hope is a promising courtship. And courtships sometimes have happy endings.

My vision is that of another golden age where serious pastoral clinicians will engage each other critically and with respect, strengthening in the wider community the clinical vocation of pastoral care and counseling. Let's find out, as we move forward with Eric Hall, if my vision is a delusion or a harbinger of great things to come.

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Raymond J. Lawrence
CPSP General Secretary
lawrence@cpsp.org