The College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy—

Raising Voices…Lifting hearts

Once more we are at a critical time in the history and development of the ministry field of Professional Clinical Pastoral Care. We must first of all recommit to its importance in a world where the boundaries of medicine, psychiatry, pharmacology, criminal justice, and community welfare world-wide are changing. 

Why is this happening? I suggest that the moral and material decline of organized religion - plus the uncertainties of cultural diversity - are challenging the premises upon which our public institutions have been based for the past two centuries. If you want, you can add climate change, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and every other form of personal and political evil you care to imagine. 

BUT, are matters really worse than ever before? Or have we failed to keep up with the definitions for the pain and sorrow that are endemic in human life? I humbly suggest the latter. And so? There is a lot of work to be done.

Our colleagues in other pastoral care guilds are facing the need to reform. One of the largest is facing irrelevance because of persistent reliance on an “educational” model, while another’s administrative model has led to its leadership losing touch with its members. Is it any wonder that those two groups’ 4-year effort to merge failed? 

The CPSP arose primarily from these two organizations over 30 years ago, and we want to see those colleagues – and others – thrive and also serve the needs of the desperate, the grieving, the isolated in our very midst. Our colleagues need more witness and encouragement from US, the Chaplains and Pastoral Psychotherapists of the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy. 

The CPSP has the vitality, structure and philosophy of ministry that can relate and respond to the changes in our cultures. We can embrace the new definitions of need that require our very best care. I believe our immediate task is to witness our spirit, capabilities, and qualifications to others in more assertive ways, and offer hope and direction to a floundering field of ministry. 

We don’t need mergers. We don’t need to all be totally alike. We need synodical efforts – opportunities to walk together the road of pastoral care and to learn more from one another as we serve the changing and changeless crises of human life. Our General Secretary, Raymond Lawrence, has suggested beginning with a conference about the origins of our field, as a way to reestablish a common historical and philosophical foundation for the efforts that are needed today. 

What is getting in the way of all of us brilliant educated and trained folks doing this? The standard answers; human pride and professional pride. 

There is envy that we in the CPSP have reasonably succeeded in living out the values of our Covenant and have a working model of effective and accountable Chapter Life. What can we in the CPSP do about this? We are NOT going to abandon the beliefs and practices that give us strength. 

What can we change that might make a difference? One public perception needs to change and we can do it. 

A consequence of our own organizational history is that when we do sit down – even today, after 32 years – with persons from other groups, the CPSP is identified with our very individualistic elderly founder. He deserves respect and appreciation, but he himself will tell you that he is NOT the CPSP! Raymond wants this perception to be removed as an obstacle to our mission. The answer is not to silence him. 

The answer is for others to speak up – for the world to hear the VOICES of the CPSP. This takes work. 

After my own 30 years of affiliation with the CPSP, I can honestly say that some of us have been lazy. We have let just one or two people speak for us. We have not challenged each other and our leaders effectively or pushed one another to greater things. We seem to have been afraid of more discipline in the management of our affairs. At the same time, we have been too rigid and not fostered more wild and crazy solutions and models of ministry. 

Yes, you may feel free to enumerate all the exceptions to what I have just written!

Starting today, the PASTORAL REPORT is going to do its part to help change perceptions. Beginning right now, we will be boldly clarifying and distinguishing what is news, what is personal opinion, and what represents the current official posture of the CPSP. 

Beginning right now, we are seeking more expressions of differing opinion about the practices and direction of the CPSP. Not everything we receive can be published, but we can move in a more open direction and see what that might look like. 

Our General Secretary will speak his mind. Our Co-Presidents, Committee Chairs, and Staff will speak their minds. But they are NOT the CPSP. Our strength is in our Chapters and how they encourage our members to grow – even into new leadership for the community.

And I am just your obedient servant, the Editor. 

Chaplaincy Alive!

Let’s see how bumpy this buggy ride gets!

Bill Scar

Editor, The PASTORAL REPORT