CHICAGO, IL (May 25, 2011) – The Covenant Chaplains Association (CCA) is working with North Park Theological Seminary to develop Good Shepherd Initiatives in Pastoral Care, which will provide additional training to students, pastors, and interested lay people.
In 1999, the CCA began developing an endowment for what it hoped would be the Good Shepherd Chair of Pastoral Care at the seminary. “During this past year it was realized that this dream was going to be very difficult to reach and was out of sync with theological education today,” says Chris Pickett, a member of the CCA.
The organization decided during the Midwinter Conference in February to revision the use of the funds so they would be used instead for “training experiences, workshops and practicums,” says Pickett.
“One of the hallmarks of Christianity throughout the past two thousand years has been its commitment to care for others,” Pickett noted. “In a society that is so fixed on ‘what we have materially,’ we need to know how to reach across and help those whose needs are deep and may even be hidden from their awareness. We need to help them to come to know the healing presence of God through our presence with them.”
Pickett added that the initiative will “bring opportunities for caregivers to learn these skills and excel in their ability to be a caring friend and source of spiritual wholeness for others.”
The initiative still is in its formative stages, says CCA member Richard Bergstrom. “We hope these experiences will be held around the country, wherever interest is expressed. We also hope some of these experiences can be distance learning events utilizing Skype.”
So far the fund has raised just over $170,000, says Bergstrom. Interest from the account will be used to fund the initiative.
The CCA includes everyone with Covenant ministerial credentials who serves in the role of chaplain. This includes military, hospital, retirement communities, sheriff’s departments, fire departments, and all retired chaplains.