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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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November 23, 2011

A TIME FOR THANKSGIVING: A Letter to the Community by Raymond J. Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary


At this Thanksgiving season we in CPSP have much to be thankful for. We are prospering as a community both in this country and overseas. We have come into our own as a significant community among the many communities that promote clinical pastoral work.

We are also approaching November 30, the first anniversary of the Mediation Agreement signed by the ACPE and CPSP, signed appropriately enough in Philadelphia. This agreement put an end to two decades of animosity that was subverting the high goals of both communities.

We are grateful especially to leaders of the Religious Endorsing Bodies without whom this agreement might ever have come to fruition. We are grateful, and we look forward to a deepening sense of collegiality between the two communities.

The members of the CPSP Mediation Team who, with our ACPE colleagues brought this agreement to pass, are Jim Gebhart, Perry Miller, George Hankins-Hull, and me.

In February a subcommittee was appointed to undertake the detailed discussions with our ACPE colleagues as they implemented the Agreement. This sub-committee has had one face to face meeting and numerous phone meetings. Jim Gebhart chairs this committee, which includes Annari Griesel and John deVelder. They have addressed and are continuing to address several complaints that have been presented from our side to ACPE of possible violations of the Mediation Agreement.

We have every hope that this dialogue group will continue its work in the positive and cooperative spirit in which it began.

We believe we are entering a new era in which the ACPE and CPSP will be more fully colleagues in our common work. And for that anticipation we can all be very thankful.

Given our progress together we are thankful that we seem to have entered a new era of mutual collegiality as becomes our common calling.

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

-Raymond J. Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary

-Raymond J. Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 1:43 PM

November 21, 2011



Taking a Break and Enjoying the Sun and Sea at NCTS-East

Left to Right: Barbara McGuire, David Baker, Francine Angel Hernandez and John DeVelder

The Fall NCTS EAST was awesome! This was the largest yet! We had 68 attendees. The Stella Maris Retreat only holds 45, but many of the attendees stayed at hotels and some were commuters. The power of the small group still is the crux of NCTS. We had ten small groups, four of which were Supervisors in training. The other six were made up of staff chaplains, chaplain interns, chaplain residents and certified chaplains. During the presenters’ report session, there was evidenced of critical reflections and critical feedback taking place in small groups. The energy of the attendees was refreshing! Stella Maris Retreat, located on the ocean gave a fresh breeze and new life to this seminar. Just hearing the attendees share in this experience was a true reflection of recovery of souls.

Our presenter, Dr. Roy Gaton, helped us to revisit how we take care of ourselves as caregivers. We were admonished to be cognizant of the need to preserve health (physical, emotional, mental, etc.) He gave a crucial example of self-care, “If you are in an airplane they teach you to first inhale the oxygen from the mask so you can help someone else. You put the mask on yourself first and then you can assist your children or others. For if you don’t take care of self first, you could very well loose consciousness.” To avoid losing ‘consciousness’ there need to be a major shift in how we take care of our selves thus avoiding Compassion Fatigue. We as caregivers need to discover ways to reframe our care giving. We need to stop neglecting the care of self. And we are being self-centered when we focus on our needs. In fact, if we fail to focus on caring for our selves we have really missed a command of God, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We cannot take self out of the equation.

Don't be deceived - this is not being self-centered - this is learning to love self and your value. Self Care is both Natural and Spiritual and begins with YOU!

Dr. Gaton encouraged us to live outside our tendency. Stop living from the head out. Our tendency is to focus solely on others at the expense of our own health. Health is inner peace. He encouraged us to blossom in the presence.

Dr. Gaton admonished that anxiety leads us to negative thinking. Live fully in the present and be in touch with all of who we are. We need to avoid the tendency to go back with regrets or to look toward the future with fear. STAY in the presence. We can choose to be peaceful inside regardless of what is going on outside. When we are facing any situation: Learn how to RELAX.

The Tavistock as always engendered a lot of energy around issues of gender and boundaries. It allowed space for persons to wrestle with inner personal issues that may have in fact been some of the unspoken group issues. There seemed anxiety in those who continuously shared who may in fact have been the container for much of the energy housed in the silent members.

All in all this was a very dynamic overnight seminar. We look forward to others to follow.

Francine Angel Hernandez
NCTS Director

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:25 AM

November 14, 2011


Lawrence with Young Gweon You, Director of Yonsei University Counseling Center in Seoul, and Chair of the "Asian CPE Network in the Global Age" conference held in Seoul, in September. Lawrence was keynote speaker.Young You did his clinical training at Episcopal Health Services in Long Island under Richard Liew a decade ago.

CPSP is increasingly involved in Asia. We were well represented at the International Council for Pastoral Care and Counseling (ICPCC) that met in Rotorua, New Zealand in August. CPSP was represented by persons from the U.S., Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Raymond Lawrence conducted a seminar on group theory and practice in clinical training. Richard Liew was nominated by Lawrence and elected by the assembly as treasurer for ICPCC for the next four years. The ICPCC convenes every four years, rotating its meeting venue.

CPSP speakers at the Seoul Conference with hosts on each side: (From left to right) Do Bong Kim, Joel Aguirre, Raymond Lawrence, Mei-po Young Tam, Cesar Espineda, and Taesuk Kang. Missing from the photo was Diplomate Mu-gun Chong.

In October the Korean Clinical Pastoral Education association (KCPE) convened an international meeting, "Asian CPE Network in the Global Age." Raymond Lawrence was invited to be the keynote speaker. Other speakers represented Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Korea. Among other conference speakers with CPSP credentials were Mei-Po Tam-Young from Hong Kong, Joel Aguirre from the Philippines, Cesar Espineda from the U.S., and Mu-gun Chong from Korea. The conference was convened on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the first clinical pastoral training organization in Korea. It was organized and chaired by Gweon Young You, Director of Yonsei University Counseling Center in Seoul. He did his clinical training at Episcopal Health Services in Long Island with Richard Liew a decade ago. CPSP was well represented at the Korea meeting.

Lawrence traveled next to Hong Kong, where he met with the Hong Kong Chapter as it reviewed and certified Mei Lan Chow as Diplomate in Pastoral Supervision. This was a notable event in that this was the first certification of a person fully trained in Hong Kong in the Chinese language. Lawrence also met with staff of Bethel Seminary, which is putting forward a proposal for accreditation as a Pastoral Psychotherapy training site, which would be complementary to its current Clinical Training Program. He also met with the CEO of Baptist Hospital, Raymond Chen. Baptist Hospital is one of the most prestigious health care institutions in the city. Mei-po Tam Young is Director of Chaplaincy with a salaried staff of 29 persons and directs a CPSP-accredited Clinical Training Program.

Raymond Lawrence meeting with the Hong Kong Chapter after certifying Mei Lan Chow as Diplomate in Pastoral Supervision.

Left to right: Patty Man Ping To, Agnes Kwai Ping Ho, Lawrence, Kenneth Ys Tam, Mei-po Young-Tam, Suzanne Wong-Ip, Benjamin Wat and Mei Lan Chow.

Lawrence was invited next to Perth, Australia, where he was hosted for six days by the Perth Council of Churches. They are exploring the option of inaugurating CPSP training programs in Western Australia.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 8:21 AM

November 11, 2011

Congratulations to David Plummer


CPSP Diplomate David Plummer has become Chair of COMISS.

COMISS is the one and only organization where certifying bodies, religious judicatories, and seminaries meet to share their mutual interests and concerns. It is an interfaith and interdisciplinary community. Its initials stand originally for Congress on Ministry in Specialized Settings, but now refers to itself as COMISS Network.

We congratulate David on his promotion to this significant position of leadership and wish him well in his tenure.

Raymond J. Lawrence
General Secretary, CPSP

Raymond J. Lawrence
General Secretary, CPSP

David, CPSP Diplomate

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 10:47 AM

November 10, 2011

The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy: Membership, Certification, and the Responsibilities of Growth ---by William Scar

In the CPSP we value persons and competence above institutions and complacency.  In that spirit we speak of making spiritual room for each other and "midwifing" one another's journeys.  

The CPSP should be proud that our membership is second to none in training and qualifications.  Our Standards are directly analogous to, and share a common history with, all those of the cognate organizations that certify individuals for specialized pastoral care and accredit clinical programs of training and education. 

We in the CPSP have chosen to be different by centering professional development and certification within the small groups we call Chapters.  We are proud to proclaim the conviction that our organization by Chapters is a superior way to assure accountability and pastoral integrity, while eschewing bureaucracy and unwarranted complication and expense.

Responding to a Challenge to Professional Integrity

We now have the opportunity to evidence further that our decision to organize by Chapters – although requiring greater intensity and trust – bears within itself remarkable power for healing and renewal. In the course of our rapid growth, some Chapters have not applied the Standards in full accord with their content or intent, and there are now persons who have been certified and have professional skills but whose qualifications do not represent the CPSP Standards.  This situation is not new or surprising in a growing professional body.

Our history of excellence motivates us to take whatever steps are necessary to address shortcomings in a way that is at once compassionate and rigorous, so that we can remain at the forefront of the field of specialized pastoral care.  The good news is that the CPSP has solutions readily available that emphasize our values and demonstrate what makes our organization unique and enviable. 

Consistent with our Covenant, we are an organization that includes members through "matriculation," not graduation.  Our Chapters are by design intended to provide further personal encouragement, continuing education, and clinical supervision for those individuals requiring it.  Our ethic does not stress ultimate and final achievement, or certification as a form of graduation, but an organic experience of ongoing training and maturity. 

To assure our progress as professionals, we embrace a small group process that is intended to be lively and always ongoing, with specific certifications that are renewed every single year.  This is equally true for everyone who is certified, including every Diplomate who is in leadership. Levels are differentiated not by a sense of calling but by our demonstrated and confirmed clinical abilities and our dedication to one another and our ministries.

Mutual Care, Responsibility and the Chapter

Our responsibilities to one another are continual.  Every person who has been granted membership in the CPSP has become part of who we are as a movement.

The local Chapter, which embodies the essence of our CPSP ethic and defines our principal and unique position among cognate organizations, takes the prerogative of affirming the person and the character of each individual being considered for membership. It is the local Chapter members who take personal responsibility for the daily professional life and ministry of each individual they include in their Chapter membership and recommend for certification. This authority that resides in the Chapter is how we proclaim the quality of specialized pastoral care that each and every member of the CPSP is able to provide. This authority shapes and empowers the accountability and responsibility we have to one another.

If an eminently qualified member is in distress or at risk, we have the resources to address their difficulties immediately, beginning at the local Chapter level where care and attention will make the most difference.  In cases of disability, we are even available to provide qualified interim services as may be requested by an institution.
If a person’s qualifications are in some way found to be lacking, we have both the local and national resources to assist members to attain needed skills or to achieve proper equivalence to our well-established high Standards. We assure competence through honest and accurate assessment from colleagues committed to addressing issues of quality in a strengthening and supportive environment.

 "Recovery of Soul" includes the mutual up-building of our membership in ways that assure the broader clinical pastoral community and the recognized faith group organizations, as well those who may employ us, that our Standards are both rigorous and well maintained.

Limitations of Chapters and Committees

The Chapter is not, however, free to ignore or dismiss the common Standards we share with the CPSP community at large. A Chapter's authority does not extend to ignoring or waiving specific Standards or even determining equivalencies to the qualifications and credentials that are set out clearly in them. Every applicant for certification must fulfill all parts of the Standards pertaining to education, training, and endorsement prior to being able to formally interview before a certification committee. In individual cases requiring special circumstances for the intent of the Standards to be fulfilled, Chapters are expected to propose sensible and reasonable solutions for others to consider and approve. 
It is never a solution, however, to suggest that parts of the Standards simply do not apply. No Chapter Convener, certification committee or the Chapter as a whole has the authority to waive our common Standards. If this were the case, our Standards would be mere guidelines or suggestions for a loose association of idiosyncratic groups, unrecognizable as belonging to the same CPSP. Therefore, in cases where a colleague is unable for any reason(s) to meet the Standards as they are written, these are opportunities to work together to find solutions that demonstrate equivalences in rational and documentable ways that are easily understandable by both an applicant and other certified members.  The national certification committee exists in part to help guide local Chapters in identifying and working out equivalencies that represent the content and intent of the Standards and the will of the CPSP community.  

Some Needed Corrections

Local Chapters are where this CPSP matriculation occurs. Beginning with the responsibility we take for one another within our own Chapters, we strive to nurture success in the professional development and advancement of each and every member. In our current situation where our growth has resulted in some inconsistent applications of the Standards, we do not set out to exclude or remove anyone who has already been accepted into membership. 

Two practical steps, however, are essential for us to maintain the unity that is fitting and indeed essential to the CPSP as a community comprised of Chapters of equal and enduring quality.

First, we must endeavor to assist all persons who have already been granted membership to become fully qualified, through reasonable and accountable procedures to remedy identifiable deficits.

Second, we must temporarily accept no further applications for membership or advancement in certification from persons with credentials that do not fulfill, in established and traditional ways, the content and intent of the Standards.

Reasonable, Creative Solutions and Covenant Community

We have more than sufficient experience with reasonable and creative solutions to assure that diversity will be respected and no questions about credentials will remain unanswered. We can celebrate differences in personal backgrounds and spiritual traditions without compromising Standards.

Those who apply for certification by the CPSP want something that is a privilege to obtain, and they are seeking it from persons who deserve their trust. If anyone is not prepared to trust those to whom they are applying, then why are they applying? Certification is not a “right”, but a privilege that is granted within the context of our common Standards and covenanted relationships of mutual accountability.

Respect for certification includes respect for those who bear responsibility for granting it and respect for a process that may withhold it. Any other attitude will by definition disqualify an applicant. These matters are “givens” in defining our enterprise.
All of these processes are intended to value the member who will enhance the Chapter and with it the CPSP as a whole. Validation in the context of accountability nurtures balance and efficacy in our ministries.

No system for training and certification is without fault. Organizing in Chapters has been a blessing to our membership and our ministries, and Chapter life has demonstrated its superiority as a means to professional development and accountability without burdensome hierarchy and expense. Personal commitment and interpersonal encounter have made this possible.

We are first and foremost a mutually supportive covenant community. Our credentialing is intended to enhance and support that community and to exemplify at its best the meaning of our Covenant. In our obedience to that spirit, we are a genuine credentialing body when we empower and identify persons qualified to serve publicly in the ministries of specialized pastoral care.
The Rev. Dr. William Scar, BCCC
Diplomate, CPSP
Diplomate, AAPC
Approved Supervisor, AAMFT
Program Director, Good Samaritan Counseling Center/SCIC

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 3:06 AM

November 9, 2011



The 2012 CPSP Plenary gathering will take place at Doubletree Hotel & Suites Pittsburgh City Center. The hotel is situated in a prime location, which is right in the middle of Pittsburgh’s vibrant downtown.

A block of rooms have been reserved March 24, 2012-March 28, 2012. The special room rate, $119.00, will be available until March 4th or until the room block is sold out. You can reserve your room by clicking here.

We look forward to seeing you in Pittsburg March 25th-March 28th 2012.

Download a copy of the 2012 CPSP Plenary Registration Form posted below:

Download 2012 CPSP Plenary Registration Form

George Hankins Hull
CPSP Plenary Secretary

George Hankins Hull
CPSP Plenary Secretary

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:47 PM

November 8, 2011

VIDEO POST CARD: Agnes Ho from International Council on Pastoral Care and Counseling (ICPCC) in Rotorua New Zealand

Agnes Ho, CPSP Diplomate from Hong Kong, attended the International Council on Pastoral Care and Counseling in Rotorua New Zealand as a CPSP representative.

Agnes Ho, CPSP Diplomate from Hong Kong

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 6:09 PM

The 2012 CPSP Plenary March 25th-March 28th 2012 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Kimberly Garner, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.F.P. will be the Plenary speaker at the 2012 Gathering of the CPSP community.

Dr. Kimberly Garner is a staff physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is also an assistant professor of Geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Garner is the medical director of the Geriatric Evaluation and Management Unit at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System which is a specialized intermediate unit which provides an interdisciplinary team approach in an inpatient setting.

The GEM specifically addresses relatively recent and potentially reversible loss of physical or cognitive function using a rehabilitation model. This involves a multidisciplinary, including occupational and kinesiotherapists, assessment. The primary goal is to promote functional well-being that allows re-entry into the community at the most independent and least restrictive level of care for chronic and seriously ill Veterans. She is currently conducting research to develop methods to engage Veterans and care providers in effective communication about advance care planning.

Dr. Garner received a juris doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and a master’s of public health from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She received a B.S. in dietetics from Louisiana Tech University and her M.D. degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

During the 2012 CPSP Plenary Dr. Garner will address the Current State of the Art of Assessing an Individual's Readiness to Discuss Advance Care Planning from a Palliative Care Perspective.

Advances in medical care and technology can prolong an individual’s life expectancy and blur the boundaries between life and death, dramatically impacting how they may experience the end of their life. There is some evidence that the treatment people would want to receive when faced with the end of life is often different from the treatment they actually receive.

In most cases, individuals may receive more aggressive care than desired, prolonging their death and potentially increasing their suffering. However, this may also result in some individuals not receiving all the care they desire.

Palliative care is founded on the principles of identifying patient preferences and attempting to achieve those wishes. Identifying readiness to discuss a patient’s wishes is a foundational skill for palliative care and other healthcare providers who provide end-of-life care. Research in this area supports that the most successful interventions by providers are those that are iterative and tailor information based on the individuals’ readiness for engagement and participation. The Transtheoretical Model Stages of Change is a model that has been used successfully to identify an individual’s readiness to discuss preferences and wishes.

George Hankins Hull
CPSP Plenary Secretary

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 5:46 PM

November 1, 2011

Tolerance and Encouragement: Within a Covenant of Mutual Accountability--- Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD


Tolerance and Encouragement:
Within a Covenant of Mutual Accountability---

Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD

The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy aspires to be “a supportive and challenging community,” “willing to speak the truth” with “a compassionate heart.”

“A clinical pastoral chaplain must be someone who is
committed to continuing personal transformation.”

“Our continuing vitality will be determined by our ability
to nurture a receptiveness to criticism … .”
“We will have to be resolute and diligent if we want
to nurture a capacity for the self-critical in our midst … .”

In 1975 I was invited to present a keynote address. I spoke on eight “Questions from the Past (on the Future of Clinical Pastoral Education)” – outlining how Anton Boisen might have critiqued what had become of clinical pastoral chaplaincy – asking “whatever happened to the development of a critical tradition?” I was not invited back.

In 2005 I was invited to present a main opening address. I spoke on “religion in crisis” – on being keepers of our brother’s or sister’s religion – outlining how Boisen felt chaplains must promote “the finest potentialities of the human race” – across any and all supposed boundaries – while maintaining “a self-critical stance”. I was not invited back.

This time I am invited to present views on what is wrong with CPSP. What did happen to the development of a critical tradition – a self-critical stance? Can the College admit that some members need patient, persistent collegial support toward further growth – and admit that some Chapters need clear rededication to providing that guidance? Are critics invited back?

Boisen would ask: Can the College be frank about its shortcomings and failures? Can the College consider that some members may need to leave and some chapters may need to close? Can the College admit that not everything worth emulation lies within and that not everything worth scorn lies without? There is no substitute for facing the truth head-on. As Boisen would phrase it, Can the College repent “before it is too late”?

The College spoke out against the world into which it was born. Now it must speak out against itself. The College that burst upon the scene twenty-some years ago was an improvement over professional chaplaincy’s past. The College that moves now into a new decade with new challenges must become an improvement over its own past – in order to fulfill the promise of its future. Chaplains joined because the College committed to a vision of a covenant community, in which members held themselves and their fellow members responsible. Chaplains will remain because the College can refine that vision and recommit to making mutual tolerance, encouragement, and accountability work.

The College has struggled and accomplished much, trying to avoid mistakes made elsewhere. Witness “The Covenant,” that names specific areas known to be potential problems. Perhaps it was not considered consciously – or consciously enough – however, that there would be un-named, un-specified potential problems. Perhaps it was not considered consciously – or consciously enough – though, how to acknowledge any falling short of the College’s ideals, or how to embrace any inevitably needed change.

Fortunately, many members and many chapters are doing well, progressing individually and collectively along their paths of spiritual growth. A member’s success – a chapter’s success – these are encouraging confirmation that the CPSP covenant community can work. None of this success is diminished one bit by acknowledgement that at times members and chapters fail.

The College chose to pursue a model of local rule, through small-group “Chapters,” rather than central office rule. Championing local accountability, however, does not mean that well-considered monitoring by a central leadership team should be avoided. The goal was to expand the availability of clinical pastoral care, counseling, and psychotherapy services, but achievement of that goal becomes meaningless if the quality of such services is not maintained or enhanced.

A personal, non-bureaucratic, non-parental approach only can work if significant amounts of time and energy are devoted to helping each other on a persistent, on-going basis. The College lives or dies according to how diligently each member accepts not only personal responsibility but also collegial responsibility – that each member indeed is – and must be – his or her brother’s or sister’s keeper. Yes, there are tensions inherent in this collegial accountability. No one “promised us a rose garden”.

The College sought to break down arbitrary barriers that made it difficult for rural, non-mainstream, and otherwise marginalized clergy to enter the clinical pastoral field – and it succeeded in this regard. The College sought to assist non-North American clinical chaplains in forming their own indigenous national or regional associations – and it succeeded in this regard. However, breaking down arbitrary barriers does not mean that well-considered standards for initial and continued membership should be avoided – or that the serious consequences of chapters expanding, contracting, or disappearing should be down-played. The College is either a covenanted community or it is not. The College stands or falls according to the seriousness with which it takes The Covenant.

Retrospectively one might recognize that focusing on covenant responsibility and on dispersed local governance was simple in theory but complex in lived actuality. One is hard-pressed to point to another professional organization that functions in this manner, so it would be a rare member who comes to the College already grasping intimately how it works. The simplicity is attractive to those who deal daily with impersonal, infantilizing bureaucracies. The complexity lies within all the joy and heartaches of working with brothers and sisters – growing up with brothers and sisters – truly as brothers and sisters, in the deepest meanings of those relationships. Retrospectively one might recognize that making this attractive organization work would be harder than it might at first sound. To continue reaping the many benefits will take dedication and re-dedication – perhaps even more dedication than had been expected.

The College’s external struggles of the last two decades have discouraged any substantial amount of frank and open confession of its internal struggles. The College, understandably, had to “put its best foot forward” as it dealt with outside matters. Now it must take a look at its “dirty laundry” and deal with those inside matters that have been neglected too long. Concealment and avoidance out of concerns for external disparagement will not work as the College takes the next step forward. Abandoning all but the most perfect members and the most perfect chapters will not work either. Time and patience – a lot of time and patience – will be required to work with each other, toward helping each other and each chapter to become better than in the past. Let me repeat: abandonment of our brothers and sisters is not an option. While a struggling organization might have felt it had to avoid acknowledging any problems, a vibrant organization must be courageous enough both openly to acknowledge problems and openly to be dedicated to solving them.

Among the barely mentionable items within the College has been the succession of leadership. A certain degree of responsible anarchy with a generally benign nominal leader plus a few “elders” on hand to arrange occasional “mid-course corrections” has worked well enough. Tension persists, however, as members contemplate the unknown – how the College will fare with a future nominal leader, who may or may not be generally benign, plus a younger leadership team, that may or may not appreciate the lessons learned through the histories of the College and its predecessor organizations. The College has been fortunate to have various members arise quite naturally into formal and informal guiding roles. It may be time – even past time – to begin the open conversation about how this ungoverned natural process relates to the need for a nominal leader plus a few “elders” at the top.

In summary, the central problem facing the College is learning how to deal constructively with the understandable difficulties in living up to its ideals. Acknowledgement – and correction – of shortcomings makes ideals all that more real. Denial – and evasion – of shortcomings – as if they simply were not supposed to happen – undermines the whole notion of commitment to ideals. The College formulated a revolution in the field of clinical pastoral chaplaincy. The challenge is how to re-vitalize – re-empower – atmospheres of self-criticism and self-correction. The challenge, as Boisen phrased it, is how to mature in times both of crisis and of custom.

See also
Powell RC. “Tolerance and Encouragement: Among the Roots of the Clinical Pastoral Tradition.” CPSP Pastoral Report. 06 June 2011.
Powell RC. “Tolerance and Encouragement: At the Core of the Modern Clinical Pastoral Tradition.” CPSP Pastoral Report. 10 September 2011.

The first opening comment is from
“The Covenant” of The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy; and
Lawrence RJ. “Eleventh CPSP Plenary Meeting Report to the Community: 15 March 2001.” CPSP Pastoral Report 03 June 2003. [a reprinting of the 2001 presentation];
See also, Boisen A. Religion in Crisis and Custom: A Sociological and Psychological Study. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955, p.237: “a living fellowship with a certain body of beliefs in which there is room for growth and for discovery.”
The second opening comment is from
Lawrence RJ. “General Secretary’s Report to Plenary: 21 March 2003.” CPSP Pastoral Report 03 June 2003.
The third opening comment is from
Lawrence RJ. 2001, op cit; in other words, re-reading this entire earlier article is highly recommended.

The 1975 reference is to
Powell RC. "Questions from the Past (on the Future of Clinical Pastoral Education)" invited keynote address, presented before the “50th Anniversary of Clinical Pastoral Education” conference, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Minneapolis, 16-19 October 1975. 1975 Conference Proceedings: 1-21, 1976.
The 2005 reference is to
Powell RC. ““Religion in Crisis and Custom: Formation and Transformation – Discovery and Recovery – of Spirit and Soul.” opening address delivered August 2005 at the 8th Asia Pacific Congress on Pastoral Care and Counseling, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, China. on the internet at [click on “Materials”] and at and .

The reference to Boisen and “before it is too late” is to
Boisen AT “Evangelism in the Light of Psychiatry,” Journal of Religion. 1927; 7(1):76-80; pp 79,76.
Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD is the leading historian of the clinical pastoral movement. Many of his published writings are posted on the Pastoral Report. Readers can use the PR's search engine found on the left side-bar to locate his articles. As a practicing psychiatrist, his writings reflect his daily investment in his clinical practice of providing psychotherapy and care to his patients. Contact Dr. Powell by clicking here.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:51 PM

BLESS ME/CURSE ME---by Ron Evans

Halloween. In the front window a pumpkin peers into the night. From beyond, children’s voices rise and fall in the darkness. My children, adults now, sit with my wife and me around our oak dining table.

“Remember the costumes we had…that time I was Bat Man and you were a cat?” my son says.

“Yeah, and pillow cases half full of candy. Some people gave really great things but those little boxes of raisins…I threw them in the alley,” my daughter laughs.

“Did you know that this is All Hallows Eve and to-morrow is All Saints?” I am unsure of myself but I want them to know our history and tradition, something I have paid little heed to over the years. “It is a time to remember the dead. If there is anyone who comes to mind of family or friends, we could name them. We never did this when I was a kid but the older I get it seems…” I feel awkward. For a moment we sit, silent, four faces caught in the candle’s uneven light.

“I wish grandma were here to-night.” There is a note of sadness in my daughter’s voice, then a quiet laugh. “Perhaps she is, sitting there in her place at the end of the table.”

I lean back in my chair, relieved that they have heard me. They know what I am talking about. My son remembers his grandfather; my wife names her mother.

“I had a brother,” I tell them, “who was born before me but died at birth. I have known about him for years but have never told anyone.” This lost brother like other pieces of my family history has remained hidden for years beneath a shroud of silence. But tonight with candles, an oak table, and spirits abroad, the shroud lifts a bit and there is permission to speak.

“One time when I was about fourteen I was visiting at Mrs. LaFontaine’s. She lived on a farm east of us. Had some nurse’s training before she was married. Out there in the hills she was the person you went to for help. She knew every family and all their ailments. I forget what we were talking about, but I remember she said, “That was before the baby died.” I must have looked surprised, because she glanced quickly at her husband and changed the subject. I didn’t ask for details. I don’t know why I didn’t question my mother, but I never did. Years later, I learned some more.

“In ’65 when we went to the States, I needed a birth certificate to get a visa. They didn’t issue a little plastic card with your name on it, but a full page, listing my brother’s and my sister’s names. My name was the last one. But, just before me, written in my father’s handwriting, was “baby boy.” There had been another child before me, a baby stillborn. He didn’t have a name, but he was there.

“A few years ago when your mother and I stopped at the cemetery where your great-grandparents are buried, there in the plot beside the larger graves was a small headstone of a baby. It just says, ‘baby boy.’ That’s my brother.”

Again there is silence but I feel as if I have brushed away the dust of forty years. I can clearly see a host of questions I have not stopped to ask before. Who was “baby boy?” What embarrassment or shame has kept him from being at our table? What memories did my mother and father carry but could not speak of? Surely there had been pain over such a loss, but together with the dead baby the pain remained buried, hidden away?

Then, it is as if, at the edge of the shadows beyond the table, I see the figures of a man and woman. They are youthful and strong. But the woman is crying and the man looks away. For a moment I am angry. I am about to ask them why they have said nothing all these years? Why has the shroud been firmly drawn? On many things. Why the taboo about speaking of an infant dying?

I tell myself be quiet, leave the shroud in place.

“It is over now,” I tell them, ‘the story is complete; everyone is here, everyone has a place at this table.” I raise my glass to drink.

But in the orange light something far back, beyond the shadows, has begun to stir. More questions appear. If my brother had lived would my name be on the list? Would he have completed this table? Was there some “intention” that I should live and he did not? My mind presses at the shadows trying to imagine to not be born.

The disturbance does not cease. I don’t know why my parents never spoke of my brother’s death. I have no answer, really, but rather a discomfort in my body, spreading out from the pit of my stomach, to envelop heart and groin. I am attracted by some fear that embarrasses.

A dead infant. Stillborn. From the body of my mother. Begun there by my father. Begun there some night as they lusted for one another. It is not just death that lies hidden beneath the shroud. Sex and death; a witches brew. Still birth is a return, a return to the beginning, to a warm night with half a moon, to darkness, to the dark hiddenness of a woman’s body. It is a return to pleasure, to a man’s desire and a woman’s inviting, to the smell of heated bodies. And lusting’s sounds. My father and my mother. But now all that forbidden passion, that illicit joy, is nothing more than a bit of blood and sinew, dead.

The door bell rings. I go and am met by two figures, a bride and a groom. “Trick or Treat,” they shout.

Ron Evans is a CPSP Diplomate living in Saskatchewan, Canada is a a published author. He has frequently presented his poetry and prose at meetings of the CPSP Plenary as well as contributed articles for publication in the Pastoral Report.

The following are two of his recent book publications:

Coming Home: Saskatchewan Remembered

The Sourdough Bagel: Confessions of a Loner Who Likes Company

Below are several of his articles published on the PR:

Five Books At One End of a Shelf

A Word From the Lord

To contact Ron Evans, click here.

Posted by Perry Miller, Editor at 4:36 PM