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The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy is a theologically based covenant community, dedicated to "recovery of the soul" and promoting competency in the clinical pastoral field.

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February 8, 2005

A MESSAGE TO THE COMMUNITY by Raymond J. Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary


A movement is underway to subvert the COMISS Network. It requires your attention.

COMISS has for more than a decade been the effective roundtable for the diverse clinical pastoral organizations, along with the many religious endorsing body representatives.

The motivation for subverting COMISS is the wish by the largest groups in the field, principally the ACPE, to create a monopoly for themselves. The desire for a monopoly in the field has increased as CPSP has flourished, and especially since the CPSP is the only competition ACPE has.

The monopolistic dreams of the ACPE converged with the dreams of Walter Smith, CEO of the Health Care Chaplaincy, Inc (HCCI) of New York City. Smith's morally tainted institution has felt the competition of CPSP, which has threatened Smith's inflated ambition of owning the entire New York landscape in the field of health care chaplaincy.

Thus Smith presented $100,000 in matching funds to ACPE and its collaborators for the purpose of creating a subgroup that would declare a monopoly in the field. That subgroup was headed by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).

Smith's $100,000 subgroup venture produced the Council on Collaboration, which in turn drew up what it calls "Common Standards" for clinical pastoral training and clinical chaplaincy. The Common Standards are unremarkable. They contain no elements that CPSP does not already subscribe to, except for one: the listing of the only legitimate organizations in the field.

As anyone could have guessed in advance, the five listed legitimate organizations are the five that were invited to the table by Walter Smith and his lieutenant, George Handzo, to participate in the Council on Collaboration. Smith invited no one to collaborate except those he selected. John deVelder, representing CPSP, actually asked to participate in the early discussions of the Council on Collaboration, but was denied a seat at the table. The Religious Endorsing Bodies representatives that make up a large part of COMISS were not invited either.

The Council on Collaboration and its Common Standards are no more than a device to monopolize the clinical pastoral field, with the ACPE as the principal beneficiary, and the HCCI as a principal beneficiary in the New York area.

We will fight this self-aggrandizing move with all our resources. We will expose it for what it is at every opportunity. We will fight it for three reasons. First, its success would put us out of business. Second, its success would render COMISS obsolete. Third, its success would make it virtually impossible for any new organizations to emerge in the future. Any healthy movement is in a state of continuing reformation. We must oppose any efforts to smother in the cradle new and innovative communities that may wish to emerge in the future.

I call on you to be vigilant in reporting all attempts to proclaim the monopoly of the ACPE, and that you relay to me or Richard Liew, President, any attempts to promote this predatory movement.

We will discuss this matter in greater detail at the April Plenary in Columbus, Ohio.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at February 8, 2005 4:17 PM

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