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A Message from APC President...

by APC President Ronald C. Oliver PhD MBA BCC

APC Forum, November 2018, Vol. 20 No. 7


As I write this first Forum article as President, situations across the United States have summoned the attention of many of our members.  Recently, bombs were sent to politicians and a media company.  Sadly, fourteen Jews were murdered while they worshiped.  And, here in my own hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, two African-Americans were targeted and then killed by a gunman bent on killing African-Americans.  (Alarmingly, surveillance video showed that the gunman first tried to get into a predominantly black church presumably to begin his attack there.)  And just days ago twelve were killed in Thousand Oaks, California.  We grieve the losses and abhor the violence.  We pray for the victims as we also work to determine how to engage to help.

Chaplaincy is largely a summoned profession.  Pagers beep, cell phones ring, overhead pages sound, nurses refer and off we go.  As situations impose themselves we connect with the individuals caught by unexpected and unwelcomed circumstances and bring to them our unique and integrated resources – in that holy place, suffering is diluted and hope is built.

When summoned, what is our mission?

In the micro APC’s mission is to help you be effective.  Bottom line: APC helps ensure that by your formation and your skills you can make situations better.  In the macro, APC's mission is to build and shape the profession for large and systemic threats and opportunities.  In service of our mission, in the coming year APC will focus on the indispensable importance of relationships.  Everything great that we have done, are doing, and will do is because of partnerships.  Some of the places where you will see this focus:

  • Strategic Partners
    • APC, AAPC, ACPE, CASC, NACC, & NAJC took the first of many steps to become partners for professional excellence in spiritual care. Together we believe that through structured collaboration we are best poised to capitalize on strategic opportunities in order to ensure all those served by the Associations have the best possible spiritual care and to safeguard the future of the spiritual care profession.
    • The work of designing and building this new relationship has been on-going since the MOU was unanimously adopted and then signed by all the participating organizations in July 2018.  Great discussions and decisions are underway and more are ahead.
    • What are your thoughts and feelings about becoming commonly united?  Do you believe this does or does not serve the profession?  What are your hopes and concerns? Share them with me
  • Friends of the Profession
    • APC has many friends.  Last week Joe Perez, APC President-Elect and I attended the Military Chaplains Association.  There we had the opportunity to meet with their Executive Director Dr. Razz Waff (Major General, U.S. Army, Retired) and many of their leaders and members.  We also spent quality time with Dr. Jan McCormack who has been a colleague on the APC Board.  We enjoyed seeing Chaplain Will Kinnaird, with the Department of Veteran Affairs and former APC Board Member, receive one of the 2018 Distinguished Service Awards.  MCA is doing great work with and for military chaplains and are asking how they and APC may strengthen the relationship.
    • The Pediatric Chaplains Network is one more example of a relationship with professional colleagues with whom we share space.  Under the leadership of their President Lavender Kelley, APC & PCN enjoy a collegial and collaborative relationship ripe with mutually beneficial opportunities.
    • The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab wasjust recently launched ( under the leadership of Founder Wendy Cadge, PhD, Co-Founder Trace Haythorn, PhD, Executive Director, ACPE, and Director Michael Skaggs PhD.  As a think tank, CIL’s centerpiece is the linkage it brings to people across the United States and around the world who are involved in the research, teaching, and the provision of spiritual care in a range of settings.
  • The APC Board
    • During this next year your Board will be working on the next strategic plan.  Certainly this plan will build on the areas of strategic focus in the current plan:
    • Support research to advance chaplaincy 
    • Expand collaborative partnerships and strategic alliances that support professional chaplaincy
    • Lead in professional development for chaplains
    • Optimize technology/innovation to enhance professional chaplaincy
    • What are your ideas for the direction of the organization?  Big picture, what is going on in your place of service that APC needs to be mindful of and consider as a Strategic Plan is crafted?  What opportunities and threats have your attention?  Share your insights at:  
    • The APC Board of Directors serves as fiduciaries for APC.  As with any non-profit association they are charged to be loyal, to practice care and oversight in a manner that is appropriately confidential, free from conflicts of interest and does not provide any undue personal benefit.  Your Board is diverse, competent, engaged, and energized for the work ahead.   I can promise you that each Board member sees their role through the lens of service.  We are honored to serve and glad to be at your service.
  • Members
    • All of the aforementioned has but one goal: to ensure APC members have the training, support, guidance, connections, and access to resources to do their one main thing: help people.  We are relationship experts who have a very unique skillset and, more importantly, we have been formed for this work.  We excel at the art of care.  Conversely, we are neither mere spiritual technicians nor problem-solvers.  The BCC represents years of training, education, experience, and, most importantly, integration.  Our credentials are not the next level accessory for one’s professional résumé.  We are professionals who bring a deep and integrated understanding to the person who, with tears in their eyes, takes the risk to trust us with fragile hope and tender secrets.  We know how to care at the deepest levels.  We know how to get there and stand still in the holiness of that place.  As good as you are at doing all that, and more, APC’s job is to help you get better and better at it.

As a point of personal privilege allow me to share the joy it has been this past year to serve as President-Elect to The Rev. Martha Rucker, APC’s immediate Past President.  Martha’s thoughtfulness, clarity, humor, and grace have made me, APC, and our profession better.  Thank you, Martha, for being a steward of not only your Presidency but also of your many years of dedicated service on the Board.  No doubt the gift of perspective will grant you a full measure of satisfaction for a job well and faithfully done. 

Let’s connect, let’s talk, let’s serve together to ensure that you and I and the profession are inarguably the preeminent spiritual care resource for the people and circumstances that summon us.

Rev. Ronald C. Oliver PhD MBA BCC is a system vice president, Mission and Outreach, of Norton Healthcare, Louisville, KY. He serves as President of the APC Board and may be contacted at