Pastoral Report Articles 

  • 21 Sep 2017 9:11 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)
    We have received word of the death of Richard Liew at his retirement home in Arizona. He apparently suffered a blow to the head from a fall that resulted in fatal cranial bleeding. Life support was removed on Wednesday September 20.

    Richard was among the earliest of those ACPE chaplain supervisors who joined CPSP. He quickly became a key leader. He emerged as a key leader both personally and financially. He was made the sixth CPSP president, for the 2004-06 term. 

    Richard was a strong force for clinical pastoral training, especially in the New York area. Later in life, he directed programs at Westchester Medical Center, and until retirement at Episcopal Health Services in Long Island. Subsequent to his retirement he developed training programs in Malaysia, assisted by his new wife Annie.

    Since 2009, Richard has not been active in CPSP. My last conversation with Richard was early this year when I invited Richard to be an honored guest at the March Plenary Meeting. 

    Many of us have missed Richard in recent years. Unfortunately we will now miss him more. We extend our condolences to his wife and family.

    Raymond J. Lawrence
    General Secretary

  • 20 Sep 2017 8:49 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy has always recognized the need for flexibility in our certifying process including educational requirements for our certification categories.  The standard for Board Certified Clinical Chaplain, certified Pastoral Counselor, and all Diplomates is that each candidate is to hold a Master of Divinity, or equivalent, from an accredited seminary or theological school.  In addition, over time, considerable confusion and debate has emerged as to just what M.Div. “equivalency” means. For a long time a common standard did not exist to guide assessment of equivalency, much less an equitable and consistent application of assessment. Therefore, CPSP has established a task force to help set guidelines and procedures for assessing determining equivalency of the M.Div. degree. 

    After much research and deliberation, we on the Equivalency Committee have decided to propose two sets of guidelines for evaluating M.Div. equivalency.  The first would be for those from Western faith traditions who have something other than an M.Div. that might be considered equivalent to the M.Div.  The second would be for non-Western traditions that emphasize a “mentored transmission” of the learning and formation needed to achieve the level of competency within those traditions to act independently as ministers of their traditions in public ministry (as opposed to private devotion).  I will discuss both of these sets of guidelines in turn, and later we will post the proposed guideline documents for review and discussion from the CPSP community.

    Regarding  Western faith traditions, I will discuss what we mean by that term, what we mean by M.Div. equivalent, what the proposed basic evaluation guidelines are, and how these guidelines would be applied.  I will then briefly describe the process for evaluating “equivalent” or “commensurate” theological training for those in “mentored” faith traditions, most of which are of Eastern origin.  Last, I will address why it is imperative that continue to require some type of theological education for those seeking board certification. 

    By “Western” religious traditions, we mean those from such faith group as most Christian and many Jewish traditions.  Most of these traditions recognize the Master of Divinity as the definitive course of academic training for their ministers.  While some may not require the M.Div. for ordination, even most of those faith groups still tend to regard the M.Div. as the desired or preferred level of academic achievement.  The Master of Divinity degree is the “gold standard” by which academic preparation and education for ministry is measured in the broader Western religious world. It is also the standard required for certification by the other pastoral care cognate groups.

    Given that, what does “M.Div. equivalent” really mean?  That question has been a source of much confusing on the part of chapters and candidates seeking certification.  I have spoken to one chapter convener who insists that any master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning is what is required and nothing else.  By that meaning, if a person has a Master of Science in engineering from a CHEA accredited university, then that serves as the equivalent.  Another convener advocates that the M.Div. equivalency means a person has earned a D.Min., Ph.D., or Th.D., but never took the M.Div. along the way.  For another perspective, as I was serving as the outside consultant to one chapter’s certification committee, a candidate for BCCC was adamant that he had the equivalent of the M.Div. because he served as an associate pastor to “Bro. ____” for ten years and that he had read a slew of religious books are articles.

    Others have objected to the word “equivalent” itself.  I tend to agree with that objection.  After all, one Master of Divinity from a certain school really is not “equivalent” to a Master of Divinity degree from a different school or seminary, even if both institutions are CHEA accredited.  Therefore, how can an educational experience that does not earn the M.Div. itself be in reality “equivalent” to the M.Div.?  I actually prefer the term “commensurate” with the M.Div., or even the term “comparable.”  However, “equivalent” seems to be the standard operative term used by most all of the pastoral/spiritual cognate groups.  The main consideration, though, at this time, is that the current set of CPSP standards read “equivalent.” Therefore, unless and until we change the standards, our committee is forced to stay with the term “equivalent” or “equivalency.”

    Bear in mind that an equivalency of a Master of Divinity is a serious, graduate level status supported by graduate level education that the committee can evaluate as being on the par with the graduate M.Div. degree.  Sunday school classes, lay training events, continuing education credits, undergraduate courses, and the like do not count toward the equivalency.  Only graduate level work will be considered, as the M.Div. is a graduate level degree.

    So, how do we determine what educational experience is equivalent to the Master of Divinity degree?  The Equivalency Committee has answered that question in this way:  In the case of those from Western faith traditions, “equivalent” to the M.Div. means:

    1. A master’s degree, other than the M.Div., from accredited college or university in religious, theological, or spiritual studies consisting of 72 semester-hours minimum. OR
    2. A master’s degree, other than an M.Div., from accredited college or university in religious, theological or spiritual studies consisting of less than 72 semester-hours minimum, but with additional graduate theological semester-hours that bring the total to a minimum of 72 semester hours. OR
    3. A minimum of 72 graduate theological semester credits or 108 quarter credits, in religious, theological, or spiritual studies from an accredited college or university.

    In light of that, how do we evaluate if a candidate’s educational experience is “equivalent” to the M.Div.?  Well, as we keep in mind in any of the three cases above, we would evaluate M.Div. equivalency based on the specific criteria.  Therefore, the 72 semester hours of graduate theological work should include the following:

    1.  Twenty-four (24) graduate semester credits in theological, religious, or spiritual studies (with certain categorical requirements spelled out further in the guidelines).
    2. Twenty-four (24) graduate semester credits in chaplaincy, religious or spiritual care, counseling, and/or practice (again with specific categorical requirements further defined).
    3. The additional twenty-four (24) graduate semester credits may be from any area listed in 1. or 2. above or any accredited graduate level study or degree program appropriate to chaplaincy or supervisory clinical pastoral education (e.g., education, counseling, etc.)

    The committee for equivalency had developed a work chart for evaluating a candidate’s courses according to the above guidelines. The candidate needs to assume the responsibility to use his or her transcripts and complete the work chart by placing each course in the proper section.  The candidate should then send the work chart along with working copies of transcripts to the chair of the Equivalency Committee.  The candidate also should have official transcripts sent directly from each institution to the committee chair as well. No equivalency will be considered until the candidate submits a complete work chart and all transcripts.

    The above definition and set of guidelines is substantially comparable to what other pastoral/spiritual care cognate groups recognize as being “equivalent” to the Master of Divinity. This is important, not only for cognate group parity, but also for considerations by agencies such as the Department of Education.

    The second process for “equivalency” is set forth for those in non-Western traditions that emphasize a “mentored transmission” of the learning and formation needed to achieve the level of competency within those traditions to act independently and publicly as ministers of their traditions.  That last phrase is the key.  Some traditions may call that “ordination” while others may not.  Some traditions may also use the term ordination to mean something above and beyond that.  The key concept, as we understand it, is the preparation and mentoring necessary to be acknowledged by the faith tradition as someone who can “minister to the public in an independent manner” (i.e. without direct supervision of their ministry) in their particular faith tradition. 

    It is important to note that most frequently, vocational education and formation within what might be called “Eastern religious traditions” takes place within the format of mentored, disciplic transmission over a number of years. Because this training takes place outside of the model of the contemporary western university or seminary (as reflected in most accredited theological institutions), it is rare for candidates to be able to produce transcripts for verification of examination of their theological preparation. None-the-less, noting the importance of all candidates for CPSP certification (at all levels) to be able to interact on a peer level in collegiality, in both chapter and career life with other CPSP credentialed professionals, a method for examining and vetting equivalency in depth, and breadth, as well as duration of theological preparation, remains essential.

    Generally speaking, within most (Eastern) mentored spiritual traditions, in lieu of receiving an academic degree or diploma, the verification of having completed a terminal course of theological preparation will be ordination, initiation, or empowerment to the fullness of ministry. That is, admission to the clerical level wherein the candidate is duly authorized by their faith tradition to independently practice their ministry and represent their faith tradition to the public at large. In a sense, it is this qualification that delineates the aforementioned peer status in a multi-faith community of pastoral professionals.

    However, evidence of appropriate ordination, initiation, or empowerment alone does not satisfy requirements for evaluating theological preparedness in pursuit of CPSP certification. Therefore, candidates for certification will be required to submit a comprehensive portfolio (in place of academic transcripts), detailing the duration, depth, and breadth of their theological preparation, as appropriate to their spiritual tradition.  In the guidelines for assessing equivalency to the M.Div. for those from Eastern mentored traditions, the committee has outlined the details of how that portfolio is to be compiled is outlined.

    Finally, why do we want to continue to require theological preparation for those who present themselves for certification?  Some have argued that perhaps it is time to consider doing away with the requirement for any type of theological education at all.  Some advocate simply saying we accept any master’s degree in a “related” field, such as a Master of Science in Counseling, a Master of Psychology, a Master of Social Work, a Master of Divinity, a Master of Arts in Theology, a Master of Education, etc. The argument goes that any of these degrees prepare one for much of the work that we do. Therefore, let us lay aside the theological requirement and embrace these other degrees as adequate preparation for chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, pastoral supervision, or pastoral psychotherapy.

    In answer, I would refer the reader to the article “Increasing Trend to Secularize Chaplaincy” written by George Hull and published June 29, 2016, on Pastoral Report. In it, Hull argues that this movement to the more secular idea of “spiritual” as opposed to “religious” or “pastoral” diminishes chaplaincy to a “generic practice.”  Hull contends, “The promotion of spirituality results in diminishing the role of the hospital chaplain as a religious professional in favor of that of a generic approach which in the end a social worker or nurse can provide.”  We agree.

    Now, let us recall the first paragraph of the CPSP Covenant which reads:

    "We, the CPSP members see ourselves as spiritual pilgrims seeking a truly collegial professional community. Our calling and commitments are, therefore, first and last theological. We covenant to address one another and to be addressed by one another in a profound theological sense.” 

    We are “spiritual pilgrims” to be sure.  However, we are “first and last theological.”  If we move away from requiring our candidates for certification to have significant theological education, then we will have ceased living out who we are and who we are called to be.

    Candidates wishing to be considered for equivalency should contact the chair of the Equivalency Committee, Al Henager, with questions, a copy of the requirements, clarifications of the process, a copy of the equivalency work chart, etc. at:

  • 19 Sep 2017 10:41 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The Red Cross is in need of trained Spiritual Care volunteers for Florida and Texas...


    The Red Cross has an immediate need to deploy an additional 43 trained Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) Volunteers to Florida and Texas. We have been incredibly grateful to the more than 55 of you who have deployed across Texas and now in Florida following Hurricane Irma we have a combined need for a 4th Wave of support in Texas and Wave 2 in Florida. Between each disaster we are requesting a total of 43 DSC trained Volunteers. 

    The Red Cross Exchange System is back up and running. Here is what we need from you: If you are a DSC trained Red Cross Volunteer 

    Option A: 1) Update your availability to deploy in the Volunteer Connection Exchange system. 2.) Contact your local chapter to assign you to one of the 43 open positions either in Florida or Texas. (Please Note: If you are a Red Cross DSC supervisor, please choose one of the open supervisor (SV) roles.) 

    Option B:  If: 1) you have completed DSC training; 2) are now registered with the Red Cross and 3) you are willing and able to deploy immediately for up to 14 days, then send the following information to:

    This temporary email account has been created specifically for this deployment only for those able to immediately deploy.

    1. Name as it appears in your Red Cross Volunteer Connection account
    Last Name:
    First Name

    2. Red Cross Region (required):

    3. Your Red Cross Member Number (required):

    4. Confirmation that you can deploy/travel within 24 hours?  Yes/No

  • 12 Sep 2017 7:57 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Hurricane Harvey shifted my attention from home projects again to the sky. After the eclipse and in between watching weather reports, I finished reading a new book by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who explains the stars. He also says a few things about our situation on earth. 

    We do not ponder the universe on a daily basis. No patient I have visited talked about the physical heavens, although not a few spoke of the other kind, sometimes in more detail than I could bear. Mostly they talk about getting well and leaving the hospital. Tyson says, "The cosmic view comes with a hidden cost. … sometimes I lose sight of earth." Natural disasters caused by Harvey and eclipses do make us look up. Usually, though, we do not lose sight of earth, and we try not "to space out" as others talk about their problems here-- a good listen helps them.

    "Sometimes," Tyson continues, " I forget that every day -- every 24-hour rotation of the earth -- people kill and get killed in the name of someone else's conception of God, and that some people who do not kill in the name of God, kill in the name of needs or wants of political dogma." As chaplains we're well aware of these earthly concerns, including the fact that suicide is also a killing. 

    He also forgets that "powerful people rarely do all they can to help those who cannot help themselves. As citizens we witness that indifference and, as chaplains, we intervene on behalf of the weak; all too often as both we fail to convince. 

    "However big the world is," he concludes, "-- in our hearts, our minds, and our outsized digital maps [including those of Harvey] -- the universe is even bigger. A depressing thought to some, but a liberating thought to me." And he liberates a problem I think is as difficult to solve as the math he so easily explains: "Children do not yet know that the world doesn't revolve around them. … Part the curtains of society's racial, ethnic, religious, national, and cultural conflicts, and you find the human ego turning the knobs and pulling the levers." As a first step toward its solution, I would suggest, as he does, to imagine a world in which this problem would shrink  -- or never arise -- so that "we could celebrate our earthly differences while shunning the behavior of our predecessors … ."

    Because I love celebrations, I hope that we will soon get to work on planning that one. 


    Dominic Fuccillo is a retired Clinical Chaplain who lives in Littleton, Colorado.

    Dr. Tyson's book is Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Norton, NY, 2017. He writes about the matter discussed here on pages 194-197.

  • 07 Sep 2017 11:10 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Dear CPSP Community,

    With all of the natural disasters happening in our world at an alarming rate we cannot begin to imagine the full impact.  We hold you all, and especially those who are directly and immediately affected, and those of you deploying to serve at the location of theses events, in our hearts and thoughts.

    Everyone deals with such devastating and traumatizing events with incomprehensible amounts of loss and grief.  As professional chaplains and pastoral counselors, listening to people’s stories is worth more than words can say.  Allowing the inconsolable to be heard is healing, listening conveys sympathy, and is a first step in helping someone heal.

    We, as chaplains, are a sounding board to those in need, and we thank the chaplains who are responding at this time to the events of our world, whether it is the pending impact of Hurricanes Irma or José, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, or the fires raging in Oregon, the quiet counsel we provide, the listening ears or the sympathetic presence, is more valuable than ever.

    Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers, always.


    Ruth Zollinger and Dave Plummer
    CPSP Co-Presidents

  • 07 Sep 2017 10:26 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    Hurricane Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005. The hurricane made landfall near the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25, and it meandered over eastern Texas for four days, with many areas receiving more than 40 inches of rain, causing catastrophic flooding, displacing over 32,000 Texas residents, and causing over 70 deaths in the United States. In response to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, non-government organizations such as the Red Cross have worked to provide relief.

    In this segment of Chaplaincy Alive!, host Susan McDougal talks with Patty Berron, Red Cross Mental Health Disaster Relief Responder, about her work and training with the Red Cross and the dramatic impact that Hurricane Harvey has had in her area. Patty is a member of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, Board Certified Clinical Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor.

    Remember to subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn or and Overcast: 


    Or listen to us on PodBean:

  • 05 Sep 2017 11:55 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The Ministers’ March on Washington marked the 54th anniversary of the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, "I Have a Dream,” which was a call to end racism in the United States of America and a call for jobs and economic rights.  This march in 2017, punctuated this era as a time that, “things are the same,” that we are still fighting for jobs, freedom, economic rights, health care and the ‘right to vote.’

    Rev. Dr. Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network (NAN), called for 1,000 ministers to march on Washington for justice, and stated, “This opposition to the new administration is not about politics, but the moral corrosion of the country that has become increasingly evident under President Trump.” We were called to commemorate, remember and continue making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream a reality.  

    Over 3,000 attendees, religious leaders from all over the United States of America, marched from the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument to the Department of Justice. My heart rejoiced to see the assembly of people! There were as many white folk as there were black folk at the march. In attendance were gays, straight, same gender loving, leaders from Islam, Judaism, Christianity; a rainbow of clergy, some in vestment, clerical collars, some wore kippahs and taqiyahs; some even wore t-shirts and jeans.  Speeches were delivered by Imams, Rabbis, Christian leaders and leaders in the gay community. All had gathered with one hope and one call for justice and for justice now!

    One sign that struck me was held by a little white boy no more than five years old that read,  “Hate stinks worst than monkeys’ doo-doo.”  His mom made him scratch out ‘monkey’ but the sentence did not lose its meaning.  As an organization of clergy of all walks of life, my dream is that we too will claim as a mantra, “Hate stinks!”  

    As an African American woman who participated in civil rights gathering in the 1960’s, it is a travesty that we have a president bent on erasing and eradicating every thing that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, marched and died for.  The president talks about making America great again, when America belonged to the Cherokee Indians, not white supremacists, however, the healing of this nation has to begin with those of us who claim an allegiance with God and believes that God calls us into this ministry. The pulpit is a safe place, but the problems are on the streets, in communities where violence seems the order of the day.  This march helped to refocus us and it energized us to work together to make a difference. There were ministers from all over the United States, united in one cause: Justice!

    “We want justice, when do we want it, we want it now!” was the chant throughout the day!

    Francine Hernandez

  • 03 Sep 2017 11:29 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    The Red Cross has immediate need to deploy 40 trained Disaster Spiritual Care (DSC) Volunteers. If: 1) you have completed DSC training; 2) you are already registered with the Red Cross and 3) you are willing and able to deploy immediately for up to 14 days, then send the following information to: This temporary email account has been created specifically for this deployment only for those able to immediately deploy.

    1. NAME as it appears in your Red Cross Volunteer Connection account

    2. Red Cross Region (required): 

    3. Red Cross Member Number (required):

    4. Can you deploy/travel within 24-hours? Yes/No

    If you are not currently registered with Red Cross - please call your local chapter to begin the process. 

    Thank you,

    Linda Walsh-Garrison, BCCC, MTh
    +American Red Cross
    Disaster Spiritual Care - SWARM Division Advisor
    Service to the Armed Forces
    (917) 597-6319

  • 13 Aug 2017 8:11 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    I hear from colleagues that they are not sleeping well these days but wake in the night reflecting on the seeming madness coming from international exchanges, specifically from the political leaders in Washington and Pyongyang.

    If we can believe the current consensus of reliable reporters, the murderous bully in power in North Korea is a serious psychopath and a threat to world order. Our hearts should go out to all who live under his domination. But for the grace of God, we might ourselves live there.

    A bully with considerable power must be restrained by wise, considered and judicious leadership when there are those who have the power to do so. The United States and some of its allies have ample power to do so in a careful and just manner.

    Our own country is the strongest of world powers, at least today, but is governed by a president who is also a bully. Instead of building a responsible coalition among rational and wise leaders in the community of nations, the bully in the White House elects to focus on the fact that his own finger is on the trigger. He assumes the role of a lone cowboy of western myth, ready to solve a complex and dangerous problem with a few bullets. In this instance, potentially very large bullets.

    Wise and competent leaders do not engage in hurling threats at bullies. Rather they mobilize available resources to contain them and their threats.

    We must hope and pray that others in Washington who may have bits of power around the center will be able to restrain the bully in the White House. The great irony is that the White House bully is more of a threat to our life and limb than the punk bully in Pyongyang.

    In the 1930's in Germany, the great majority of religious leaders in that country decided not to dirty their hands in politics. They were mostly quiet in the face of murderous bullying by those in political power. Only Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and a handful of Confessing Church leaders openly charged their government with criminality. They were rewarded with exile or death.  Most of us have little influence in Washington, but each has a voice of some sort. We can each make ourselves heard to some extent. And this we surely ought to do.

    Wisdom and courage seem not to be plentiful in the centers of power where monumental decisions are made. We must hope that it is there, simply waiting its moment to weigh in for the good of the entire human community.

    And now, in the midst of this ongoing international crisis, it should be no surprise that the American Nazis and their kin have heard the dog whistle from the White House and have wreaked their murderous mischief in Charlottesville. The times are heavy with danger, from within and from without. We are desperate for courageous leadership.


  • 03 Aug 2017 7:42 AM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

    C/O Charles Hicks
    111 Center Street, Suite 1200
    Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

    For Immediate Release

    Brian Childs, former Chair, CAPPT Board of TrusteesThe Board of Trustees at its August 1, 2017, meeting accepting the resignation of Brian H. Childs as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Commission on Accreditation of Pastoral and Psychotherapy Training (CAPPT) and elected George Hull to succeed him effective immediately. Childs will remain on the Board of Trustees as an active member.George Hull, newly elected Chair, CAPPT Board of Trustees

    Childs was the inaugural Chair of the Board of CAPPT with its founding in 2015. Hull has served on the board since its inception. Childs expressed his gratitude to the board for its work on behalf of the accreditation process for pastoral and psychotherapy training and he looks forward to continuing to make a contribution.

    CAPPT is an independent accrediting body that performs site reviews, training program self-studies and recommends accreditation for seven-year terms. CAPPT reviews CPSP programs for accreditation and presents its results to the Executive Chapter and the Governing Chapter for affirmation of program quality. CAPPT works closely with the CPSP Accreditation Oversight Committee.

    The CAPPT website is