Pastoral Report Articles 

  • 28 Jul 2016 1:54 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)
    I just returned from the 52nd Annual AK Rice Residential Group Relations Conference, Improvising with-in the Shadows, Exploring Authority And Leadership in Our Organizations and Communities, held July 15-20, in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to Conference Administrator, Jack Lampl, the group of almost forty participants was one of the most diverse groups to ever attend a group relations conference. 

    The timing of this conference could not have been more appropriate. The intense heat and humidity of New Orleans in July, matched the torridity and oppressiveness of recent world-events.  At the start of the Republican National Convention, shortly after shootings in Dallas and Orlando, terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Medina and Bagdad, and the on-going violence against African-Americans that is being protested by the activist group, Black Lives Matter, this conference brought together people from a spectrum of backgrounds, ages, races, socioeconomics, sexual identities, faith groups, and so on -- to create moments of inspiration and learning, as well as to explore the uncertainty and turbulence we are experiencing in the world today. 

    Stating that the conference was also hard work is an understatement. 

    Over the course of six days, we explored what it was like to work in a large group, and in smaller sub-groups that we were assigned to, such as our Review and Application Group, or chose to belong to, such as our Community Group. We were given opportunities to speak our minds, express our individuality and uniquenesses, while trying to identify the purpose and work of the group, and while flexing our own authority and influence. Our days started at 8:30 a.m., and ended around 9:30 p.m., with fifteen to thirty minute breaks, and ninety minutes for meals. The schedule was rigid - time boundaries were honored, but other boundaries were up for question or navigation. 

    At times, the work was exhausting and there were moments when I had to openly wonder how I would ever use what I was learning in real time. The connections I made with several of my fellow-conference-attendees was rewarding. During the conference, I felt more aware of my own words and actions, and the impact they had on our temporary organization, more than ever before, and how others perceived me.

    To go on to try to describe this experience, would be to place it in a box and confine it. I am certain that the impact of this conference will be realized more over time; however, I see the impact that this has had on me already, as I return to my work with CPSP, with fresh skills and insights, including a better understanding of how an organization works. To understand this better, you'll need to experience it for yourself. 

    If you haven't had the opportunity to attend a residential group relations conference, I highly recommend it. I can absolutely promise it will not be easy and I can also promise that it will be rewarding - even if those rewards continue to manifest themselves over time, long after the conclusion of the conference. 


    Krista Argiropolis
    CPSP Administrative Coordinator

  • 29 Jun 2016 11:09 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Insights Into Cancer June 14, 2016 from Simms/Mann UCLA Center on Vimeo.

    Michael Eselun is a CPSP Board Certified Clinical Chaplain and a member of the Los Angeles, CA Chapter. He serves as the interfaith chaplain for the Simms-Mann/UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology. 

    He recently hosted and presented at the first Spirituality and Medicine Conference at UCLA to an interfaith group of community religious leaders. He’s been invited many times to speak to students, doctors, nurses, social workers, and faith communities about his work as a chaplain and the spiritual dimension of the cancer experience.


    Michael Eselun

  • 27 Jun 2016 1:17 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    There has been an increasing trend in the pastoral care movement to move away from chaplaincy and pastoral care in favor of promoting and providing "spiritual care." Many hospital departments have changed their names to reflect this shift in philosophy and practice.

    Spirituality circumvents religion and promotes chaplaincy as a generic practice. Religions are messy. They have rules, doctrines, beliefs, ethics---some of which are flawed to be sure. But religions usually stand for something. Spirituality is an amorphous thing, an oblong blur, with implications of cosmic connection, but with no price tag---no demands no dogmas, and no ethics. Not even a dogma demanding justice and mercy. The only perceptible doctrine promoted by the spirituality movement is that people should feel good about themselves.

    At its best the clinical pastoral movement teaches religious professionals to be available to everyone. It also teaches them to be critical of all religion---but dismissive of none. Religion has caused considerable mischief throughout history. But religion at its best calls forth some of the noblest behavior of which human beings are capable.

    The clinical pastoral movement has been correct to be critical of each and every specific religious practice; within the limits of mutual respect and decorum. At the same time, however, it must take a permissive posture toward the various idiosyncratic manifestation of religion, giving them the benefit of the doubt. That is the basis on which the clinical pastoral movement began in the early 20th century. The movement did not attempt to create a new religion, particularly one that by implication would be superior to all the other "flawed religions" of the world. The promotion of spirituality results in diminishing the role of the hospital chaplain as a religious professional in favor of that of a generic approach which in the end a social worker or nurse can provide.


    George Hankins-Hull,  Dip.Th., Th.M​ 
    Director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Pastoral Education
    University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

  • 20 Jun 2016 10:35 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    On Sunday, June 12th, many of us here in the Orlando, Florida community awoke to the local news that twenty persons had been shot in a popular Orlando nightclub during a Latin night event. By the time the majority of us were finishing up early morning service or preparing for mid-morning service, the number had increased to fifty, and the national media had descended on the Orlando. Chaplains across the area began to coordinate a mass casualty response that included deployment to the family staging area, which had been set up in the Hampton Inn adjacent to Orlando Regional Medical Center (Level I trauma facility).

    Words cannot begin to describe the experience we were about to embark upon. Upon arrival, the atmosphere was wrought with tension and saturated with every emotion imaginable. Hope and optimism occupied the same sacred space as anxiety and fear. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, young and old, gay and straight, were all on that desolate and lonely road called grief. Hitherto fore, nothing in our collective fifty years of chaplaincy experience had prepared us for grief on such a massive scale. 

    The Chaplains were charged to provide pastoral and crisis intervention during this mass casualty incident. Chaplain Torres, who serves as an Orlando Police Department Chaplain, functioned in the role of the Incident Chaplain. We took inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of the chaplains that had assembled, as we are all at least familiar with each other. There was a need to call up Imams, Rabbis, and Catholic Priests to function as our Resource Chaplains. Chaplains with specialized training such as Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), Pastoral Crisis Intervention (PCI), and thanatology were dispatched to the epicenter and to a few homes to make notifications. After the team was assembled, we set about the task of triaging the many families that had assembled. Ascertaining religious preference and medical conditions that may be exacerbated by stress became important pieces of information. While community clergy from all over, all with the best intentions, came to offer support in whatever way they could, it proved to be challenging. Some of the clergy set about laying hands on the families in the name of Jesus. To manage them and to attempt to instruct them as to how they might create sacred space where there may be room for their brand of pastoral care proved to be challenging. Chaplains were reminded of what binds us together; our shared heritage and a burden to extend genuine grace and mercy to those in pain and to each other. 

    But, in the midst of such emotional chaos, we began our ministry of care and counseling; walking among the emotionally and spiritually wounded. For Chaplains Torres and McPhee, walking among the dead became a necessity as they reached out to be of comfort to law enforcement at the epicenter. As the news broke to the anxious families (whose loved ones were not among those read from the hospitalized list) that their loved ones could be presumed dead, pandemonium set in.  The chorus of collective wailing became deafening. The stench of raw emotions became unpalatable. The physical environment became threatening.

    After an incredibly exhausting day of ministering to the bereaved, the hysterical, the frantic, the anxious, the horrified, the terrified, the hopeful, and the hopeless, the psychological injury to the chaplains is undeniable. However severe that injury, it pales in comparison to the indelible scars this act of terror and hate has left upon the souls of the fifty families of the deceased as well as the survivors themselves. 

    As we concluded our time at the family staging area, and people began boarding buses to be transported to the next location, it was suggested that we conclude our time in prayer. Chaplains from every agency involved, counselors, community clergy, other professionals, and family and friends, gathered to form a circle uniting their hearts and their voices as one in love. Chaplain McPhee opened the time together, and Chaplain Torres concluded by offering a prayer in Spanish.  

    We would like to take this time to acknowledge our CPSP colleagues who ministered side-by-side with us in the trenches: Jim DeGrado (at the family staging area); John Williams, Sr., Steve Binkley, Phyllis Fitzwater, and Rich Behers (at the trauma center). May God continue to bless the work of our hands.


    Scott A. Fleming

    Missiouri McPhee

    Arnold Porter

    Angel Torres 

  • 16 Jun 2016 8:42 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The CPSP Communications Committee is producing a new video and audio podcast series, "What CPSP Means to You", and committee member, Susan McDougal, is here to tell you more about it: 

  • 14 Jun 2016 6:59 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The news from Orlando reminds us that homophobia is a religious and psychological blight that those us in the healing professions must continue to address, for the good of the whole community. 

    Orlando also reminds us that some of our our political   leaders shamefully want to put this terrible incident on the backs of the Muslim community, which would be a disgraceful injustice to them. Adolph Hitler followed the political axiom, if one tells a lie often enough, it will be taken as truth. We cannot allow our Muslim brothers and sisters to be shamed by this terrible lie.

    Finally, this country is alone in all the world in allowing ordinary citizens to procure instruments of mass murder, such as assault weapons.  We must use what influence we may have to put an immediate stop to this.

    Raymond J. Lawrence
    General Secretary

  • 10 May 2016 9:19 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Dr. George Buck earned the lifetime achievement award several lifetimes ago.  His history in the Pastoral Care field goes back more than 50 years.  George is believed to be the last remaining chaplain who actually met Anton Boisen, the father of the clinical pastoral training movement, whom he met shortly before Boisen’s death. 

    George trained at Menninger’s clinic, in its heyday, after World War II, where the best in American psychiatry and psychology taught and trained in its classrooms.  A sign outside of town said, Welcome to Topeka Kansas, the psychiatric capital of the world.  You could hardly say a name in the field that George Buck had not known and worked with at Menninger’s.  Anna Freud, Murray Bowen, Robert Wallerstein.  As he tells the story, it was an extraordinary experience.  

    George’s greatest gift as a supervisor was as a model in his care for his chaplain trainees.  He gave us the support and acceptance that we, as chaplains, were asked to give to our patients.  

    George Buck always emphasized the importance of pastoral care as “communicating understanding love.”  George would agree with Carl Rogers,  the famous American psychologist, who wrote, “ We engage one another in a process, where tentatively, and with great hope and anticipation, we recognize the God in every man.”  

    I will end with a few comments from George Buck’s trainees’ evaluations of the Clinical pastoral education program here at UAMS.    

    • Dr. Buck is insightful but tough.  He is open and honest and though it was sometimes hard to hear, he really helped me see myself more honestly.
    • I always had the sense that Dr. Buck would do all that he could to help me.  He helped me to work through the obstacles that arose in supporting my patients and dealing with my own anxiety.    
    • Dr. Buck is unabashedly himself.  He could never be someone else.  He is extraordinarily comfortable with who he is.  I love when he joins our group when I am not the one presenting the case study.  

    Dr. Buck is loved and treasured by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Pastoral Care Department, and the hospital administration and employees.  Congratulations on a body of work that truly merits a lifetime achievement award.


    Susan McDougal

  • 03 May 2016 9:37 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    CPSP members have found that participation in a residential group relations conference has a powerful, transformative effect on their own self-awareness and their ministries. In preparation for certification as a diplomate, all supervisors-in-training are required to participate in a residential conference but others are strongly encouraged to attend as well. This year's international AK Rice Conference is being offered in July in New Orleans. For those with a financial need, substantial scholarships are often available. Conference administrator Jack Lampl can provide more information.

  • 02 May 2016 8:34 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The Commission for the Accreditation of Pastoral and Psychotherapy Training (CAPPT) announces the election of two new board members, Rev. Deborah Kerr Davis and Bryan Bass-Riley.

    In his pubic announcement, Brian H. Childs, Chair, Board of Trustees, stated: 

    "The election of the Reverends Davis and Bass-Riley to the CAPPT Board marks two significant additions to an already impressive group of educators and and program administrators," stated Brian H. Childs, Chair of the CAPPT Board of Trustees. "Ms. Davis brings years of seminary field work education at Princeton and also her work prior to going to Princeton as a hospital chaplain. Mr Bass-Riley is a seasoned supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education/Training and a well known and respected leader in the field. The programs that CAPPT review for accreditation and those they serve will be the beneficiaries of the addition of these two good people."

    CAPPT is a specialized body that accredits post-graduate training in Clinical Pastoral Education/Training (CPE/T) and Pastoral Psychotherapy training programs in the United States, as well as Internationally. CAPPT was formed under the Arkansas General Corporation Law in 2014, and is made up of nine trustees. 

    For more information about CAPPT, visit  or email

  • 29 Apr 2016 8:04 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    In his 2003 Address to the CPSP Plenary, Raymond Lawrence provided a most eloquent definition of the founding philosophy of CPSP, reminding us of the origins of our community, and the very meaning of our existence. Raymond speaks poignantly of his own clinical training as foundational and life changing.  One might say, life giving.  One of the most significant aspects of CPSP and its life together is the accountability and care that is ongoing from the small clinical training group to the depths of care one experiences in a CPSP Chapter.  I commend these words to you almost as a sacrament, or a means of grace, calling us to our best selves, personally and professionally, and with accountability in our lives together.  

    Listen to the Words:

    CPSP was formed out of the memories of our own experience in clinical training. It was not formed around the corporate bureaucratic model, which by its very nature smothers criticism with public relations and undermines collegiality by promoting patterns of domination and submission. We remembered the redemptive process of our own clinical training, an experience that was marked by deep criticism and deep respect and care, an experience that we would never demean or trivialize by calling it skill training. We experienced our own clinical pastoral process as transformative. We sought in creating CPSP to rekindle the transformative process that seemed to be diminishing in our professional lives. We constructed the Chapter model out of our memories of the clinical training group as the best hope for fostering continuing transformation, individually and corporately.

    -Raymond J. Lawrence, General Secretary
    2003 CPSP Plenary Address to the Community 


    George Hankins-Hull 
    Director of Pastoral Care, and Clinical Pastoral Education
    University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences