The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori was ordained to the priesthood in 1994. She was previously the Bishop of Nevada, and is now the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. As the Presiding Bishop, she is chief pastor to the Episcopal Church’s 2.4 million members in 16 countries around the globe.  She is the first female primate in the history of Anglicanism.

(Voices of Pastoral Care is an audio series.  The following is a summary of discussion points, with time locations listed.  The link to the audio interview is above.)

It was a pleasure to visit the Episcopal Church Offices and to sit down with the Presiding Bishop to hear her speak on the topic of pastoral care.  Here are some highlights from our discussion:

As a former oceanographer, the Presiding Bishop explores the topic of our incarnational faith and embodied life as Christians.  She sees the natural world as an invitation to encounter God’s grace and abundance, and also understands pastoral care as an invitation to pay attention to the ways the realm of God is present with us.  Like the wonders offered by the natural world, she sees pastoral care as an opportunity to discover a possibility that was not expected.  (2:52)

I took the opportunity to ask the Presiding Bishop about whether her early life in ordained ministry has influenced the way she pastors on a macro scale within the church.  She shares a story from her early priestly ministry of working in a congregation that did not want a woman priest.  The lessons she learned about willing to remain present, to struggle through, and to remain humble helped her then, and continue to help her now.  She also speaks of her early work as a hospice chaplain, in which she was made to come to peace with death and dying.  This work allowed her to learn to embrace death in many realms, as an opening to welcoming new life in the form of resurrection.  These lessons stay with her now in her role as Presiding Bishop as she shepherds groups from barren pastures to new and vibrant lands.  (5:34)

As a final interview in this Voices of Pastoral Care audio series, I was tremendously grateful to spend this time with the Presiding Bishop, and for her generosity of spirit.  I hope you will also benefit from hearing her encouraging and insightful words.  Take a listen…

The Rev. Dr. William Harkins, Columbia Theological Seminary

Dr. William Harkins is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. He holds a PhD in Pastoral Theology, an MA and an MDiv all from Vanderbilt University. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist and an approved supervisor in AAMFT. He is interested in applications of pastoral theology and counseling to congregational and clinical settings, particularly with regard to family systems theory. He also explores the intersections between psychoanalysis and religious studies; pastoral counseling centers in congregational settings; men’s studies in religion. He is on staff as an Episcopal priest at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, and holds a family therapy practice at the Brookwood Center for Psychotherapy. He is on the CREDO faculty, which is a wellness initiative for clergy.

(Voices of Pastoral Care is an audio series.  The following is a summary of discussion points with time locations listed.  The link for the audio is at the bottom of this blog entry.) 

In this interview, Dr. Harkins explores how his understanding of family systems theory helps him not only in psychotherapy work, but in congregational settings.  He is able to use this model to help churches manage difficulties that arise over time, much in the same way that a family might experience conflict and growing pains (1:40).  He also discusses the importance of boundaries for clergy, particularly in not overstepping one’s professional role, and highlights the importance of consulting with clergy colleagues when one finds him or herself in a difficult pastoral situation (3:55).

Dr. Harkins has a specialty in Men’s Spiritualities (note the plural, which emphasizes the wide variety of spiritual expression).  He calls this work the “third wave” in the men’s spirituality movement, and finds it to be more curious and open to a wide variety men’s expressions of self and their religious needs (8:23).  The most important task for congregations in fostering men’s spiritualities is allowing for a context for men to come together, such as a group or regular meeting in which men can openly explore their spiritual understanding and difficulties (12:09).

Dr. Harkins is a faculty member with CREDO, which is a wellness initiative for clergy in the Episcopal Church.  He believes the greatest challenge facing clergy is isolation in parishes; this isolation can lead clergy (both new and experienced) to become cut off from their own spiritual practices, from their communities of origin, and from their previous self-care methods.  He recommends that clergy find a clergy group and stay in it, using it as a support against isolation and other challenges that accompany the ministerial work (14:27).  Finally, Dr. Harkins believes that compassion is at the heart of the pastoral encounter and recommends that clergy are both open to giving compassion, but also to receiving it in their own lives.

It was a pleasure to listen to Dr. Harkins share his insight into pastoral ministry.  He provides an expansive template for pastoral care, looking to the needs of individuals, congregations and whole communities, while keeping a pulse on the self-care needs of clergy.  He has wonderful advice to share. Take a listen…

The Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Y. Lartey, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

The Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Lartey was ordained in the Methodist church in 1981. He holds a  BA from the University of Ghana in psychology with statistics (1978), and a PhD in pastoral theology from The University of Birmingham, England (1984).  Dr. Lartey currently teaches at Candler School of Theology and in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion in the Person, Community, and Religious Life Program. He is the author of several publications including the pastoral care text book, In Living Color.  He is interested in pastoral care, counseling, and theology in different cultural contexts, with particular reference to African, British, and American expressions. He is researching the theological implications and practical effects of pastoral care in a diversity of cultures, and writes on the topic of interculturality.

Voices of Pastoral Care is an audio series.  The following is a synopsis of points discussed with the time locations in parentheses.  The link to the audio is at the bottom of the page.

In this interview, Dr. Lartey addresses a number of important pastoral-related topics: the self of the pastor, authentic dialogue, and the concept of interculturality.

In response to my first question, he speaks of what it means to authentically participate in difficult dialogue. When a community is faced with contentious issues, he supports the presence of authentic voices at the table.  In other words, he sees that it is more important to have a variety of truly divergent voices heard, rather than those who are representatives without personal experience (1:50).
Dr. Lartey explores the notion that multiple truths are possible in pastoral scenarios, and links this concept to the Christian narrative.  He states that it is contradictory to claim the Divine as infinite, and in the next breath to claim one has a hold of the ultimate truth.  He believes that holding the possibility of multiple truths is an affirmation of the infinite nature of God.  (6:05).

In a particularly rich section, Dr. Lartey explores the notion that each human being is like all others, like some others, and like no other.  This, he believes, is central to an intercultural viewpoint.  He compares interculturality to other views (e.g., monocultural, multicultural) and explores the dangers of seeing all people as essentially the same, or all within a group as the same, or all as completely different.  This perspective (like all others, like some others, like no other) allows for an expansive understanding of the human self, in all of its complexities (10:54).  Utilizing his own experience as a teacher of white, British students at the University of Birmingham, he explores the diversity that existed within the room of seemingly similar individuals.  And, he shares a story of how this notion played out in a pastoral encounter with a Muslim family when he worked as a chaplain.  (16:15)

Finally, Dr. Lartey discusses his perspective that the agent of pastoral care is less important that the care itself.  He believes that the pastor must undergo an experience of kenosis in order to focus on the needs of the one seeking care.  He explores the dangers of being too focused on one’s identity, stating that it is counter to the gospel to be self-focused on our pastoral identities.  He believes that the Spirit is diminished when we seek recognition for the care we provide.  Dr. Larety links this notion to the story of Jesus appearing on the road to Emmaus- it wasn’t until afterward that the disciples knew who Jesus was.  Dr. Lartey points out that even for Jesus, the action of care was more important than the agent  (23:55).

I believe Dr. Lartey teaches extremely valuable lessons for pastoral care providers in this interview, and it was a blessing to learn from him.  Take a listen…

The Rev. Dr. Amy Lamborn, Professor of Pastoral Theology, General Theological Seminary

Dr. Amy Lamborn is an Episcopal priest and an Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology at General Theological Seminary in NYC.  Her scholarly work focuses on the relationship between depth psychology and theology.  Her recent publications include such topics as interdisciplinary methodology, Trinitarian theology and models of the self, and Jungian psychology.   She is currently working on a book based on her dissertation, Figuring the Self, Figuring the Sacred.  Dr. Lamborn has served as a chaplain in both Atlanta and Indianapolis, with experience in both inpatient and outpatient mental health settings.  She has also served parishes in Indiana and New York.  Most recently, she was Theologian-in-Residence at Christ Church, Bronxville.  In addition to her faculty work a General Seminary, she is also currently an analyst-in-training with the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association in New York.

Voices of Pastoral Care is an audio series. Below is a summary of points discussed with the time locations listed. At the bottom you will find a link to the audio interview.

In this interview, Dr. Lamborn explores what it means to be a priest who is also engaged in the world of psychoanalysis.  She discusses the work of seeking deeper places with patients, which parallels religious experiences pointing to deeper life.  She sees themes and parallels in the Jungian lens and the Christian drama, and discusses how life’s minor and major events often mirror the narrative of dying, death and resurrection (1:10).
She also explores how her training in psychoanalysis informs her work as a priest.  Psychoanalysis reminds her that there is always more to learn about God, about the self, and about others, and it challenges her to seek the vast images of God that are available in scripture and experiences in the world. (4:49).

Dr. Lamborn addresses the trend of shorter term psychotherapy treatments in comparison to her work in psychoanalysis, explaining that a psychoanalyst works at both surface and depth, so is not opposed to shorter term interventions, but is always asking deeper about questions of meaning. (8:15).

In relation to her book in progress, Figuring the Self, Figuring the Sacred, Dr. Lamborn discusses one of the central themes, which is Chora. A concept found in Plato and the New Testament, she explores Chora as a metaphor for deep structure, and highlights its presence in the story of the prodigal son. In this interview, she gives a foretaste of what she explores extensively in the book, that is the celebration of multiplicity, and the ways that humans are indeed made of many aspects of self, which form not one note, but a chord, which hopefully, overtime begins to form a harmonious structure. (12:59). Dr. Lamborn also highlights the way a priest can practically make use of the notion of the Chora in pastoral praxis (24:34).

Finally, when asked about the state of pastoral theology within the Episcopal/Anglican tradition, Dr. Lamborn broadens the discussion, encouraging clergy to welcome parishioners pastorally with vigor, recognizing the profundity of what it means to engage with the sacraments which are “punctuating moments of God’s grace.” She explores the need to translate our work within the church so that people may relate and recognize the depth of relationship with God and one another that is available in our faith. (32:09)

Dr. Lamborn takes each of these complex topics much deeper in her answers to these questions.  Take a listen to this voice of pastoral care…

The Rev. Christine Davies, Supervisory Candidate, Healthcare Chaplaincy

The Rev. Christine Davies is an ordained Presbyterian Minister and ACPE Supervisory Candidate with HealthCare Chaplaincy in NYC. She earned her Master of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Master of Social Work at Rutgers University. Prior to entering the field of hospital chaplaincy, she worked as a community drug and alcohol therapist and caseworker for teenagers in the foster care system.

As you will hear in this audio interview, Christine is engaging the pastoral world in a unique way- through social media.  When she found herself as a lone staff chaplain in a hospital, she realized she needed a way to connect with other chaplains.  With a fellow chaplain, The Rev. David Fleenor, she started tweet-ups (#SocMedChap) on Twitter, providing a place for chaplains to meet and talk about their work- their specialties, self care, and a range of pastoral-related issues (0:37).  Christine can be found on Twitter at @cvdavies.

In addition to having a presence on Twitter, Christine also maintains a blog dedicated to demystifying the CPE process at http://journeyingalongside.wordpress.com/. This was the sort of resource she wished she had when discerning a call to chaplaincy, and indeed many people use her blog and tweet-ups to help discern a call to this line of work (5:26).  In this interview, Christine addresses the concern that social media is only accessible to younger clergy, identifying the ways Facebook and Twitter are used by many chaplains, regardless of age (7:30).

As a board member for the Young Women’s Clergy Project (youngwomenclergy.org) Christine talks about this community which provides support to women ordained before the age 0f 35.  Their motto, “Because you’re not the only one” speaks to the many unique concerns and issues that affect young women clergy (13:19).

Finally, Christine describes her call to ordination specifically to chaplaincy rather than to parish-based ministry, which is allowable  through the PCUSA through “allied” vocations.  (17:00)

It was a pleasure to sit down with Christine and learn about the fantastic work she’s been doing.  It even helped convince me to join Twitter!  Take a listen…

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche, Bishop Coadjutor, Episcopal Diocese of New York

Bishop Andrew M.L. Dietsche was elected by the clergy and lay representatives of the parishes of the diocese to be the Bishop Coadjutor on November 19, 2011, and was consecrated in March, 2012. Prior to his consecration and election, Bishop Dietsche was the Canon for Pastoral Care for the Episcopal Diocese of New York. He is married to Margaret Mahoney Dietsche and they have two grown daughters, and a grandchild on the way.  He has been ordained for twenty-five years, serving as a parish priest and Canon for Pastoral Care.  Prior to becoming a priest he was a cartoonist and graphic designer.

At the start of this interview, Bishop Dietsche discusses what it meant for him to be a pastor to pastors for ten years, in the position of Canon for Pastoral Care for the Diocese of New York.  He explores the ways he saw clergy begin to struggle when faced with working in isolated parishes, and dealing with financial concerns both in their churches and in their own family lives.  Bishop Dietsche describes feeling a call to “get in front” of some of these concerns so that supportive care could be provided in order to prevent great hardship for clergy (0:53).

Bishop Dietsche believes that maintaining a lively and active rule of life and a spiritual discipline are essential to clergy self-care.  He reminds listeners that Jesus explicitly gave us the remedy of the gospel life, and explains that our remedies for all sorts of crises must be spiritual (4:50). He also explores the way clergy must maintain healthy balance with their families, leaving work at work, and remembering the vows we make to our family life (6:45).  Continuing on the topic of balance, he considers the way that lay people can support their clergy’s pastoral needs through respecting the time and demands on the life of the priest (8:14).

As Bishop Dietsche has only recently become consecrated as bishop, and the full transition to leadership within the diocese has not taken place, he explores the way he believes this role will look different pastorally from his previous position, while acknowledging that he is still in the process of navigating the shift (11:23).

Finally, Bishop Dietsche shares the advice he would give to his younger priest-self: “Wear the garment of the church but wear it lightly.”  He encourages balance, self care, and “going easy” on oneself.  This earnest advice he shares with young clergy entering into their vocations (13:30).

As a candidate for holy orders in the Diocese of New York, I can say it was an absolute  pleasure to sit down with my new bishop and to hear his sage advice based on his years of experience.  Bishop Dietsche brings a unique perspective to the role of chief pastor, having provided pastoral care to many clergy and congregations.  Take a listen to this insightful voice of pastoral care…

The Rev. Paul Steinke, CPE Supervisor, Bellevue Hospital Center

The Rev. Paul Steinke is a CPE supervisor at Bellevue Hospital Center in NYC. He was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in 1961, and was a parish pastor for 10 years.  After a CPE residency at Norwich State Hospital in CT, and two years of supervisory training at Philadelphia State Hospital, he had is first job as a CPE supervisor at Mental Health Services of the Roanoke valley in Virginia.  He later came to NYU to work as a supervisor, and has been at the associated Bellevue Hospital for the past 6 years.

I completed a unit of CPE at Bellevue Hospital last summer, and was fortunate to have Paul Steinke as my supervisor.  In this interview, Chaplain Steinke shares his perspective on why Bellevue is unique in terms of what it has to offer to chaplain interns (0:47).  He speaks, in particular, about the value of work on psychiatric units, and notes that the Bellevue CPE program is the only in the nation that can offer each chaplain intern the opportunity to work on a psychiatric unit.  He speaks of the great value of learning from psychiatric patients (2:30).  Chaplain Steinke addresses the social concerns of the mistreatment of the mentally ill, and the particular injustice of the imprisonment of many people with severe mental illness, due to the lack of psychiatric facilities. And, he speaks to the ways that chaplains must be an “island for reality” when navigating work with patients who experience psychosis with religious content (5:20).

In a particularly rich section of the interview, Chaplain Steinke explains why he believes chaplains should never use psalm 23 with patients, and why the psalms of lament, such as 88, 109 and 13 are much better suited for patients who are suffering (8:55).  He provides a wonderful example of using psalm 88 with a patient dying from AIDS in the 1980s and speaks to the ways this psalm could have been written specifically for this patient (12:15).

In discussing the topic of hope, Chaplain Steinke explores the utility of group work, such as support groups for men living with AIDS in the 1980s, as a setting in which hope can grow and flourish within the context of the bonds that are formed (15:55).

He discusses the ways that chaplain interns may enter in the the CPE process wanting to share “pie in the sky” theology of hope to patients, and they leave a unit with a much more grounded ability to sit with patients in their suffering without offering meaningless platitudes (19:45).

Chaplain Steinke addresses the ways that chaplains are valued by hospital staff and gives a particularly meaningful metaphor for the different ways they work (take a listen to find out what it is!) (26:27).

And finally, Chaplain Steinke shares advice to his younger self, and to new chaplains entering this work to “go slow” and soak up the wonderful insight gleaned in one’s first CPE unit.

Having worked for 50 years in pastoral care, Paul Steinke has incredible wisdom.  Take a listen to what he has to share…

Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, Hebrew Union College

Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, D.Min, is the Clinical Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.  She is the spiritual leader of the Pound Ridge Jewish Community, a Reform Chavurah in Pound Ridge, NY.  She holds a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling, a Masters Degree in Jewish History from Columbia University, and a Master of Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College.  She is a certified member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and has published three books on creating, celebrating, and maintaining long-term committed relationships.  Her books include Beyond Breaking the Glass: A Spiritual Guide to Your Jewish Wedding, Judaism for Two: A Spiritual Guide for Strengthening and Celebrating Your Loving Relationship, and Meeting at the Well: A Jewish Spiritual Guide to Being Engaged.  She has also authored articles on many topics including pastoral care, relationships, and GLBT issues in the Jewish Community.  It was a pleasure to sit down with the Rabbi Nancy Wiener at Hebrew Union College for the Voices of Pastoral Care audio series.

In this interview Rabbi Wiener explores the ways ancient Jewish ritual is relevant to modern couples.  She speaks of the distinction between people seeking organized religious groups and having a religious sensibility, yet not seeking to join a religious community.  She explores the ways young Jews are utilizing ancient ritual, while making it relevant to their daily lives (1:00).

Rabbi Wiener discusses how symbols carry deep meaning in our lives.  In reference to an example in her book, she discusses the use of Elijah’s cup from the Passover Meal being used throughout the year as a reminder that not all problems are quickly resolved in a relationship.  She also explores the power of the wedding ring as a symbol for married coupled going through difficult times (3:30).

Rabbi Wiener provides a wonderful example of how prayers from particular holidays, such as Yom Kippur can be used throughout the year at times when they are relevant (6:19).  Relating to this example in a hospital setting, she differentiates care provided as a chaplain in a hospital to congregational care with families over years and through shared experiences with congregants, such as funerals, baby naming ceremonies and bar/bat mitzvahs (11:20).

Relating to Rabbi Wiener’s work on ritual for gay and lesbian couples, she explores the ways the Reformed tradition has made the Jewish marriage document relevant both to same sex couples and to heterosexual couples who seek a more egalitarian marriage.  This translates into the ways that the marriage service is choreographed, so that the philosophical approach to marriage is reflected in the ritual (13:53).

Finally, Rabbi Wiener addresses some of the most pressing pastoral concerns of our time, such as the growing elder population, the questions of gender and sexuality which are currently relevant and will continue to be, issues pertaining to interfaith couples, and the pastoral challenges relating to rapidly changing technology (17:33).

Rabbi Wiener provides wonderful insight into pastoral care, both from the perspective of a rabbi to a congregation and as a hospital chaplain.  Her deep understanding of caring for long term committed relationships is reflected in this interview, and in her books.  Take a listen to Rabbi Wiener’s words of wisdom…

The Rev. Henry Schoenfield, CPE Supervisory Candidate, Bellevue Hospital

The Rev. Henry Schoenfield is a Supervisory Candidate at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.  He is a United Church of Christ minister and a member of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, a community known for its social activism and involvement with the performing arts. Most of his ministry has been in health care chaplaincy, particularly with the seriously ill and dying, from Emergency Rooms to Intensive Care to Home Hospice.

This interview provides a brief, yet wonderful look into the CPE process and the work of chaplaincy.  It is an excellent resource for seminarians either in CPE or who are planning to engage in CPE in the future.  Henry has completed 9 CPE units and he discusses what brought him to this unexpected work of chaplaincy and supervisory candidacy (0:53).

Based on his life and work, Henry explores the “terror of death” that is an ever-present human reality, and he emphasizes the importance of being aware of one’s own experiences with death in order to be present for those who are dying (2:45).  He explores our cultural inability to deal with death, and the ways this might manifest in our work (6:38).   He describes the quality of curiosity as critical for any pastoral encounter in a hospital (4:13).

Henry describes the mitzvah of being present to a person in their death, especially when they have no family around (7:32), and he emphasizes the importance of presence, even over ritual or prayer at certain times in pastoral encounters (8:58).

Henry describes his marvelous spiritual practice of “noticing without judging” and how this can be tremendously useful, both for patients and staff in a hospital setting (10:35).

Lastly, Henry explores the importance of having a healthy approach to ending relationships in chaplaincy work, and reminds us that as pastoral care providers we have the opportunity to model a different way of being in the world when we are able to say “goodbye” (17:24).

Chaplain Henry is a gifted Supervisory Candidate, chaplain and teacher.  It was a blessing to sit down and talk with him.  Take a listen to the words he has to offer…

Upcoming interviews!

Stay tuned to hear from some fantastic folks throughout the summer…

This week we will hear from:

- Rabbi Nancy Wiener, Clinical Director of the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at Hebrew Union College will discuss use of ancient Jewish ritual in the daily life of couples, and the ways chaplaincy work differs from congregational spiritual care

- The Rev. Henry Schoenfield, CPE Supervisory Candidate at Bellevue Hospital will talk about hospice care and gaining an understanding of one’s own experiences with loss when working with dying patients

- Later this month and in July we will hear from:

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche, Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New York

Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, Jewish Healing Center, JBFCS

The Rev. Christine Davies, CPE Supervisory Candidate, on social media and pastoral care

The Rev. Dr. Amy Lamborn, Professor of Pastoral Theology, General Theological Seminary

Dr. Emmanuel Lartey, Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care and Counseling, Candler School of Theology

The Rev. Dr. William Harkins, Senior Lecturer of Pastoral Theology and Care, Columbia Theological Seminary

The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

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