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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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July 30, 2009

CPSP PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: "Sexual Hocus Pocus in the Episcopal Church" By Raymond J. Lawrence

In his latest CounterPunch article, Dr. Lawrence suggests there is a, "gay marriage catch," to the recent Episcopal Church decision permitting the blessings of homosexual relationships.

"The Bishops of the Episcopal Church have finally granted permission for blessings of homosexual relationships, and also of homosexual marriages in those states where such marriage is permitted legally. So now any homosexual couple may request and potentially receive a blessing of their relationship by an Episcopal priest. Just like heterosexuals. Conservative priests may of course refuse, and conservative bishops may forbid such blessings in their dioceses. But they are a small, if noisy, minority. In spite of the noise, the decision appears to be a victory for homosexual and trans-gendered persons, and at first glance a victory for freedom, toleration, and liberal-mindedness.

But there is a catch."

To read the entire article click,here.

Posted by freeman at 8:19 AM

July 26, 2009

SCHEDULE THE 2010 CPSP PLENARY NOW! ---Bulletin #1: July 26, 2009


It is nine months until the gathering of the 2010 CPSP Plenary, and a lot will
be developing and evolving over that time. For now it is enough for you to take
notice of the following:

• This will be the time of celebrating the 20th ANNIVERSARY OF CPSP. It will be an event of memory, reflection, laughter, fun. Don’t miss it.

• A very, very special theme is being developed. You will get this
announcement next month. You will not want not want to miss this

• Persons not primarily affiliated with CPSP will be invited to attend the teaching/experiential sessions. We look forward to meeting them. But they, too, will want rooms. So you will want to get your reservations in early. More data about this forthcoming.

This is enough for now. Do this: mark your calendar CPSP Plenary 2010,
Columbus, Ohio, April 11-April 13. (A day of workshops will precede the conference on April 10.

Any early inquiries contact Jim Gebhart at

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:03 PM

July 16, 2009


This is the first announcement to give the date of the fall National Clinical Training Seminar.

During the Spring NCTS, we were able to bring some creativity and energy around a new opportunity of learning by utilizing members of our community who are thought-provoking writers. We were able to engage those writers during a seminar and to hear critiques and explorations from those who were assigned to read some of their works. The respondents were simply awesome.

We have decided to continue this format for the fall. Cesar Espineda will lead this endeavor as he searches the community for writers and those who may have published or in the process of publishing their works.

The dates for the Fall NCTS are: November 9-10 (Monday and Tuesday) The seminar will begin at 10:00 a.m. on Monday and end after lunch (12:30 p.m.) on Tuesday. Please make plans to attend the Fall NCTS!

We will post the registration and theme for this seminar at a later date.

All roads lead to the National Clinical Training Seminar at Carmel Retreat in Mahwah New Jersey!

Francine Hernandez
NCTS Coordinator

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 5:05 PM

July 15, 2009

The “Snot-Nosed Kid” Who Was Loved -- by Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D.

<img He was a black teenager. Shot in the head, at night on a Dorchester street, and rushed to Boston Medical Center. The hospital chaplain on call, I was paged at the request of his family, whose members were in shock.

The youth’s father had difficulty containing himself, pacing back and forth in the hallway, now and then leaning against a wall with his head in his arms, and staring blankly when comfort was offered. When he finally sat down on a couch in the visitor’s room, his mother-in-law stood behind him and caringly rubbed his shoulders to calm him.

The teenager’s mother was fearful of entering her son’s hospital room, but finally pushed herself to do so. Seeing her son prone and unconscious on the bed, she screamed. The pain of her own wounded love for him piercing the air. Overcome with fear, she fell to the floor, and was picked up and helped onto a chair by family members and hospital staff. Later, she was sitting in the visitor’s room; and as I returned from her son’s bedside, she continued to stare at me. Finally she fearfully asked, “Do you have something to tell us?” “No,” I replied. “I’m just returning to be with you,” sensing the dread behind her question.

The teenage youth’s younger sibling sat just outside his room, keeping vigil and sobbing—stunned by the sudden violence that was ending the beloved brother’s life. Their short, precious history together as siblings suddenly and senselessly ending in that hospital room. Staff took turns comforting the sibling.

The teenager’s aunt stood next to his bed, gently siphoning the blood repeatedly oozing from his nose and the side of his mouth. At one point, as she siphoned blood coming out of his nose, she looked at him and lovingly said, “You always were a snot-nosed kid.” She then gave a sad chuckle, as did the attending nurse on the other side of the bed.

In spite of the medical staff’s exhaustive efforts, the teenager died early that spring morning, not long ago. His tragic death offers a warning and an opportunity, as summer arrives with its heated potential for street violence.

This young person—and his loved ones—put a human face on state legislatures’ budgets for youth violence prevention programs and for safety net hospitals like Boston Medical Center. It should not be about cutting the budget and saving money during an economic crisis, but about serving vulnerable people in crisis and saving lives. It is about restoring funding for hospitals that provide comprehensive health care especially for those who have the least. It is also about fully funding state-wide youth programs for those who are often last, so that they do not get lost. It is about a “snot-nosed kid” who was dearly loved, and who should not have had to die.
Bill Alberts is hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Alberts is a nationally known writer and an occasional contributor to CounterPunch. In addition, he is convener of the New England Chapter of CPSP. He can be reached at

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:01 PM

July 10, 2009

CPSP PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: "Michael Jackson as Sexual Pervert" By RAYMOND LAWRENCE

Raymond Lawrence was published in CounterPunch in its July 10-12, 2009 Weekend Edition.

In his usual fashion Dr. Lawrence cuts beneath the surface issues in this article to address "the communal life of the nation".

Lawrence writes: "Congressman King’s calling attention to Jackson's sexuality is worse than an unfair and sleezy accusation. It distracts from the more serious moral issue that Jackson's life presents. His life represents a sacred cow of American social and economic life: the right to live an unrestrained life of self-indulgence without even the obligation to pay a fair share in support of the public welfare."

To read the complete article, click here.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 1:41 PM

July 3, 2009

On Reflection . . . by Ronald David

Fourteen-year old Bahia Bakari was the sole survivor of a Yemenia jetliner crash. Her mother, with whom she had been traveling, was killed in the accident. “When I spoke to her she was asking for her mother," her father said. "They told her she was in a room next door, so as not to traumatize her. But it's not true. I don't know who is going to tell her. . . I can't tell her that."

For whom was it “too traumatic” to disclose the truth? What is gained and lost by dissemblance or prevarication? If you were confronted with this tragic circumstance how would you counsel the father? His daughter? Their care providers?

I have had two experiences that inform my response to these questions. The personal heartbreaking experience was in telling my own son that his mother had died. When he and I last saw her that morning she was perfectly healthy. He was at work when I called him from the hospital emergency room. Though my beloved wife was dead already I instructed my son to meet me at home so that I could bring him to the hospital where his mother was gravely ill. I prayed that he would drive hastily but safely. I could not imagine how I was going to tell him. All at once I knew I could not possibly deliver the terrible news nor could I possibly permit anyone else to do so.

My son was at our home when I arrived. I met him as he came down the steps from the master bedroom. I drew him to my breast, cradled his head between my hand and the crook of my neck and tearfully whispered, “Your mom died.” I felt what was left of my heart shatter into innumerable pieces. I can only begin to imagine how my news pierced my son’s tender heart.

I do not know from whence I mustered the ability to tell that horrible truth. In retrospect, I imagine that my son would have felt betrayed (ironically) had I known but not been the one to tell him. I imagine that I would have felt so had our roles had been reversed.

I think—I do not know—that if I were Mr. Bakari’s chaplain I might have responded to his desperate statement, “I can’t tell her that,” in this way: “Oh! Such impossibly terrible news to bear. My heart breaks for your daughter and you. I wonder who is better able or could be trusted more than you, her father, to tell her.” Or, “If your were to trade places with Bahia, who would you trust most?”

In a professional experience (as if the professional is not personal) that preceded my wife’s death by many years, I was a neonatologist caring for an infant that had died suddenly and unexpectedly in the early hours of the very morning he was to be discharged home with his mother. I had to go to the mother’s room, awaken her from a sound sleep, introduce myself, and reveal that her precious newborn child was now dead.

After learning the child’s first name from my nurse colleague, I walked toward the mother’s room wanting to awaken from a bad dream, wanting the child’s private pediatrician to appear on the scene . . . wanting the child’s father to be there already. Perhaps I could tell him, “man to man,” what I surely could not tell his wife. “Dear God,” I prayed, please do not leave this cruel deed to me!”

I awakened this sleeping mother as gently as I could, held her hand in mine, told her my name, identified myself as a pediatrician, and said, “I am so very, very sorry to tell you that your precious son has died.” To this day I convince myself that she knew that something dreadful had happened before I spoke a word. Not only might she have experienced resonance with my own felt despair, why else would a stranger dressed in surgical scrubs arouse her from a peaceful sleep at that ungodly hour?
These things I do know. First, this remarkably courageous woman mobilized the wisdom and strength to call her husband and, as I would do years later with my son, told him to come to the hospital as soon as he could because their son was gravely ill. I stayed with her as she wept inconsolably. And when her husband arrived I stood witness to the two of them bearing together an unbearable grief. Second, I also know that something about my presence if not my truth-telling moved these parents to consult me about the well-being of the child they gave birth to nearly one year later. Though I had been a harbinger of doom earlier, with their new child and their new hope they could still trust me.

For either my personal or professional experience I cannot imagine that truth-telling could be any less traumatic. Truth is what it is. It is easy to imagine that someone else could have told my son or my patient that which they had every right to know—someone very, very dear to them was now dead. So, for me the question is not whether they ought to be told. Rather, the question is by whom, and when?

How would we, as chaplains, have served Bahia, her father, or her care providers in the midst of their travail?
Ronald David is a pediatrician, Episcopal priest, chaplain, and recently certified Diplomate in CPSP. As a supervisor in clinical pastoral education at the Hospital of the Good Samaritan in Los Angeles, California, he experiences chaplaincy as the perfect melding of clinical theology and medicine. Troubled by the distortions and misunderstandings of theological concepts as represented in medical science and care, Ronald is writing a book on the relationship between health, spirituality, and religion.

To contact Dr. Roland, click here.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 2:27 PM

July 1, 2009

CPSP People in the News: George Hull & Al Henager

Recently the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute-University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Seek publication provided an article about the Shepherd’s Staff volunteer pastoral care program sponsored by the UAMS Department of Pastoral Care and Clinical Pastoral Education Department that is directed by George Hull.

Al Henager, UAMS staff chaplain, supervises the Shepherd's Staff program which was envisioned by Madge Brown a graduate of the UAMS CPE program. The UAMS Department of Pastoral Care encouraged the emergence of the program as a way in which individuals who have had pastoral care training with Community of Hope or Stephen Ministry serve the cancer center as volunteer chaplains under supervision.

Al Heniger states in the interview, "We want to be present and form relationships that offer patients the chance to talk about the things they want to talk about," Henager said. "We don't have an agenda, except to establish relationships."

The full article can be read by clicking here

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:29 PM