Volume 22
Number 2
The Forum issue of Association of Professional Chaplains

A Message from APC President… February 2020

APC President Joseph Perez MDiv BCC

APC’s CEO Pat Appelhans, President-elect Jon Overvold, and I attended the 2020 COMISS Forum in January (The Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings).  In this meeting we were able to network with a broader group of spiritual care professional organizations.  For example, I became aware of the Circle Sanctuary endorsing group.  Also, on this trip we were able to meet Chaplain Major General (USAF) Steven Schaick in the Pentagon.  Ron, our past president, and I met Chaplain Schaick in August last year, in which he shared about his goals of deepening the professionalization of the USAF chaplain corp.  After the August meeting, APC wanted to follow up on some resources to assist him in completing this goal.  We all found a deep appreciation for Chaplain Schaick and his leadership for the Air Force and new Space Force.
During the COMISS Forum, one of our colleagues reminded us of the ancient Hebrew story of Joseph; how he did not give up his heritage and engaged the Egyptian culture for its holistic good.  Joseph’s is a real-life story.  Joseph was no saint, yet he was eventually driven by love and integrity to engage his world for good. And his story, no doubt, was used to describe how the Holy works through the hardships of life and can transform them for a broader good.  I appreciate this image of Joseph and I can relate it to our professional spiritual care service.  As chaplains, our role is to engage care-recipients and our organizations for their holistic good as well.   This engagement requires integration.  Professional chaplains, like Joseph, have to learn the values of the culture they belong to in order to adapt and serve with the goal of edification towards the well-being of all.  This integration towards edification is called love; not the feeling, it is the action to do what is best for the one in our care. Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz described Love as the following:

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals the heart,
Without know it, from various ills.
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

May we integrate within the communities we serve for the broadest good possible!

Joseph Perez MDiv BCC is the Vice President for Mission & Ministry at Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen & Brownsville, TX. He serves as President of the APC Board and may be contacted at president@professionalchaplains.org.


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