End Of or Beginning Of...
by Bill Scar, Editor
Our personal lives can sometimes give us revelations that cross from one area of concern to another, or from one arena of opportunity to another. I am about to embark on another adventure as this old man is now engaged, and my religious affiliation is right in the middle of it. I will risk boring you with the knowledge that I am a lifelong Lutheran and my father, mother’s father, six uncles, and two cousins were all also ordained in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. My mother was in charge of keyboard instruction and choirs at the Lutheran college where my parents first met. So?
There are three primary professional groups in the field of professional pastoral care, the APC, the ACPE, and the CPSP. Likewise there are three primary groups of Lutherans in North America, the LCMS, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), and the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod).
Why are we not united, either as pastoral care professionals or as nominal Lutherans? (…And you can substitute whatever example of this phenomena fits your life.) In my immediate situation, my fiancée goes to a WELS church, our favorite place to worship is an ELCA church, and I am under the authority of the LCMS. Where do we get married, and where do we belong, and why do we give a flying farthing anyway?
The specifics of history, philosophy, material assets/structure, and pride…these get in the way of unity far more than any differences in what we seek and hope for the individual chaplain or the individual worshipper. Healing and redemption are our mission. Barbara and I have faith that the answers we seek will appear when they are important. Do you and I even care what happens in the mortal arena of supposedly cognate pastoral care associations?
As the CPSP’s PR Editor, I considered the news about the end of APC/ACPE merger discussions to be important for our field and for all CPSP members. I hinted at my reasons why. We have a duty to care about all those who share our devotion to the care of God’s people. We did not invent suffering and confusion, and we are not the only persons with insight into the training and education that will eventuate the most aid and comfort to those we encounter in our ministries.
The CPSP can bring its special insight to this moment if we choose to. It was sad and sorrowful that our field was distorted decades ago in such a way that it became truly necessary to strike out in another direction and form the CPSP. Please note; we take no “joy” in that; we do feel “thankful” that we were able to restore some focus to the fundamentals of specialized pastoral care and psychotherapy that Boisen and certain others brought forth. And we are “proud” that we have had the courage to persist and forcefully promote what we believe in.
However, our goal was never to supersede those who were not joined to us; we sought to restore and uplift, not rule or destroy. …Shine a light again on a “better way” to train and hold accountable the ministers who would serve those in need of our care.
I grieve that the APC and ACPE could not find a reasonable path to unity, just as I grieve the personal enmity and misunderstandings that still infect the relations between the CPSP and both other organizations. Are these all endings, or are there new beginnings to be hoped for and prayed about? My fiancée and I do not know whether to laugh or cry in our not quite silly dilemmas in the world of Lutheran disunity. How do YOU feel when you reflect on all the energy wasted by the ACPE, APC, and CPSP as they duplicate resources and effort claiming their territories and there “rightness”?
Is there a healing role for the CPSP to play in the coming year? Do you have some ideas for new beginnings and ways to relate and cooperate for the benefit of the people in need who are the only justification for any of our ministries? The CPSP fought 30 years ago to restore the fundamental understandings of our field, and that effort will continue. But now?
Could our mission also now include finding ways to cooperate, coordinate, respect, and support the important work that the world is demanding of us and our cognate groups? I want to see us begin THAT mission in the new year.
Editor, The CPSP Pastoral Report
CPSP Diplomate Psychotherapist, Clinical
Chaplain, Hospice/Palliative Care
ACPE Psychotherapist and SIP Trainer
AAMFT Clinical Member and Approved Supervisor
Pictured above: Bill Scar and financé, Barbara.
Photo credits: Bill Scar