The OCA 19th All-American Council (AAC) convened on July 23rd in St. Louis, Missouri. Among the many important dimensions of the work of the AAC is to hear from each of the departments and offices concerning work accomplished and initiatives underway.
Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Office Director, reported on the work of the Institutional Chaplain Office. You can view the report shared at the AAC here. He highlighted the reality at the present time that Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is occurring in some form at each of the three OCA seminaries.
He shared from cases studies of CPE integrated into seminary pastoral formation curricula (identified as the New Plan in the 1930's), found in Edward Thornton's work, Professional Education for Ministry: a History of Clinical Pastoral Education, three evaluative points underscoring the value of CPE: “(1) it enhanced theological learning in the classical as well as the practical fields; (2) it provided professional training for pastoral functioning in ministry to persons. Training was found to be relevant to preaching, teaching, and the administration of the sacraments, as well as to pastoral care and counseling. (3) the New Plan stimulated the students’ growth as persons.” (Thornton, p. 216) Each of these three points are important for preparing the next generation of priests and dedicated laypersons to navigate the growing complexities of parish life, as well as institutional chaplaincy roles, in our rapidly changing culture.
Fr. Steven further noted that the Orthodox Tradition is represented in greater pastoral care and counseling round tables such as the Commission for Ministry in Specialized Settings (COMISS Network) and the Association of Religious Endorsing Bodies (AREB). Fr. Steven currently serves on the COMISS leadership team.
This office began supporting chaplains in ministry through endorsement in 2003. The endorsing relationship uniquely brings together four parties: the chaplain, his or her faith tradition, the caregiving context, and credentialing bodies where certification is concerned. Layperson are commissioned for ministry in their parish setting (just as readers and chanters and servers were set apart for ministry). Endorsement is site-specific.
Fr. Steven ended his report by asking for prayers for all our institutional chaplains who are by virtue of their ministry in the greater community manifesting the council theme: "For the Life of the World".