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2019 APC Conference Plenary Speaker Line-Up

by Robert A. Kidd BCC, Chair, Plenary Speaker Sub-Committee
APC Forum, February  2019, Vol. 21 No.1

The theme for this year’s Annual Conference of the Association of Professional Chaplains is an event planner’s dream:  “Outside the Lines: Expanding Boundaries in Client Care, Self-Care, Institutional Care and Community Care.“  Such a gloriously expansive theme lets presenters go pretty much anywhere as long as it’s innovative.  It was with that spirit of excitement and possibility that your Plenary Speaker Selection Committee did its work this year.  And do we have a line up for you! 
Thursday, June 20, 2019

M. Jan Holton, PhDAssociate Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Care at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, NC.

“An Invitation to Belonging and Meaning: Traversing New Boundaries with Faith and Courage”

Dr. Holton kicks off our national conference by reminding us that we are beckoned by God’s call to venture toward new horizons of growth for self and ministry.  How will we cross these new and expanding boundaries?  Dr. Holton will point us to examples from the lives of the world’s displaced to learn about this challenge.   
Friday, June 21, 2019

Christina Puchalski, PhD, MD, Founder and Director of George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish). 

“Has the Pendulum Swung Too Far to Reductionist Spiritual Care?”  

Dr. Puchalski is a long-time friend and advocate for professional chaplains.  She will draw on this friendship to challenge us to return our roots.  Dr. Puchalski will help us consider ways that clinical chaplain functions now overlap with others on the interdisciplinary team.  She will ask us to examine and reclaim the unique spiritual care expertise of chaplains:  attending to patients’ deepest suffering.  She will challenge us to return to our foundations and re-examine our practice of presence and contemplative listening.
Saturday, June 22, 2019

Greg M Epstein,Humanist chaplain at Harvard and MIT, author of the New York Times bestselling book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.
Jason Callahan,Chaplain for the Thomas Palliative Care Unit at VCU Massey Cancer Center, Instructor for the Departments of Patient Counseling and Pastoral Care at VCU, and board certified Humanist chaplain.
“The Future of Chaplaincy for the Nonreligious: Restoring our Faith…in Humanity.” 

Picking up the “outside the lines” theme, humanist chaplains Greg Epstein and Jason Callahan will hold a public conversation on the evolution of religious, spiritual, and ethical care. We know that chaplaincy needs to evolve for a younger generation that is both the most religiously diverse and secular cohort in American history.  So how can chaplains help unaffiliated people find purpose, compassion, and community? How can we offer inspirational pastoral care to those striving to be “good without God”?
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Chanequa Walker-Barnes, PhD, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology, clinical psychologist, public theologian, and minister.
“Prophetic Presence: Chaplains as Social Healers and Activists”
Dr. Walker-Barnes sends us forth with a question that seems to stand in opposition to Dr. Puchalski’s earlier presentation.  Chaplains are comfortable with providing a ministry of presence to the suffering. But could we do more?  Can we step outside these familiar lines of “presence” and “bearing witness”?    When an entire society is suffering, is presence enough?  

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