A Message from APC President… – April
APC President Rev. Jon Overvold MDiv BCC
Last month, the APC Board announced their recommendation to create a new organization through the merger of APC and ACPE. This will go to a vote by both organizations sometime this summer for approval by the membership. A common response from our members has been, “I have thought for years that APC and ACPE should come together.” I share the feeling that this joining together has been a long time in coming and we stand at an important waypoint in our journey as professional chaplains.
I am a bit amazed that this extraordinary and significant change is happening as we are in the midst of a global pandemic, as everything we have known has been shaken and tested. We are two strong organizations that have demonstrated innovation, flexibility and resilience to face the challenges of a world pandemic. In fact, in story after story, professional chaplaincy has been highly valued for the care that is so desperately needed for the long haul impact of Covid. This strength of our profession and the demonstrated need for spiritual care is the context in which the boards of APC and ACPE have taken action. Both organizations come to the table as strong and vibrant organizations. We propose to combine our strengths in the creation of a new organization to serve the future of professional chaplaincy.
I am hopeful for what this merger can mean for our members of APC. We have always been closely joined with the educators. The rigorous process to become board certified chaplains included many ipr, verbatim and didactic sessions not to mention one on one supervision sessions. With practitioners and educators together in a common organization we have opportunity to deepen the integration so that educators teach to the certification competencies and chaplaincy practice standards are informed by theory and research. Further we are committed to build a culture of respect that values the voice of all of its members and embraces and empowers our diversity.
What I have experienced in being a part of the discussion with our Executive Committee and the leaders from APCE is the discovery that we share similar hopes for the new organization:
- Desire for people who seek care to know about and have access to quality spiritual care
- Demonstrate to the people who make hiring decisions, the value of spiritual care
- Build a foundation of evidence through research
- Reach people who have spiritual needs that are not turning to organized religion for care
- Contribute to best practice and strategy in palliative and end of life care
- In addition to our close allyship with NACC and NAJC who share our common standards, demonstrate quality in spiritual care and thereby influence all who wear the badge “chaplain”
Someone has asked, how will you know if this merger is a success? Here are the markers that I would consider
- An increase in the number of chaplain positions in the market
- A strategic plan and budget for research to build an evidence base for our practice
- Innovation in care delivery models that bring chaplains to new settings (ambulatory, workplace, prisons, first responders – all areas both virtually and in person)
- Gatherings of the membership that reflect passion for excellence, celebration of our diversity and respect for everyone’s voice
- Finally, our organization is not only anti-racist in its conception but contributes to building a just society, as chaplains and educators champion our core values of healing, respect and compassion.
These are some of my hopes and dreams for the next chapter of professional chaplaincy. We have a rich legacy in the APC. We have been blessed with excellent leadership these past 23 years and a talented and dedicated national staff under the leadership of Pat Appelhans. Your APC Board will continue the hard work these next few months to prepare what is needed for this historic moment. I hope you will catch our enthusiasm and imagine with us “all that can be” as we write the next chapter in professional chaplaincy together. Please read the APC communications as more detailed information becomes available. Questions may be sent in to firstname.lastname@example.org. Town Hall forums are planned for deeper discussion.
I remain grateful to be in service together with you,
Rev. Jon Overvold MDiv BCC is the Manager of Pastoral Care and Education at New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.. He serves as President of the APC Board and may be contacted at email@example.com.