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A Message from APC President...

APC President Ronald C. Oliver PhD MBA BCC

APC Forum, September 2019, Vol. 21 No. 5


APC and our Strategic Partners – ACPE, NACC, NAJC, CASC have been in conversation about what we need to be and do, together, to ensure the vitality of the profession.  Interestingly, the first conversation took place in early 2018 over pizza in a diner in Rome, Italy (we were attending the Pontifical Academy for Life conference).  Sometimes you have to go a long way in order to get close to something!  The APC Board had been envisioning possibilities since February 2017.
These conversations have been built around several certainties.

1.  The unique voice and contribution of each partner must be amplified by any newly created entity.  We envision an entity that is synergistic while maintaining members’ unique and valued identities.


2.  We see coming together in some fashion as the best way to shape the profession.  Together there are amazing opportunities to engage institutions and other associations with the benefits of the professional chaplain.  We must be missioned to address the ‘big problems’ facing the profession while ensuring each Strategic Partner can, as necessary, focus on operational opportunities and unique priorities.


3.  APC and our partners share an ecosystem with many other chaplaincy groups – some very robust, others more like a friend groups.  We envision learning from them and offering the best of who we are and what we have to them.

Along this journey the Strategic Partners published three updates on the state of discussions.  (If you’ve been following this process these next paragraphs retrace its highlights.  The latest highlight is at the end of this article.)   In June of 2018 we provided the Joint Statement from the Strategic Partners in Spiritual Care that described the first face-to-face meeting of representatives from each of the Strategic Partners when,  “We gathered to think deeply about the ways our goals overlap, and our current needs converge, as well as to be realistic about how we might be stronger together as a fleet of services to our members, our employers and the world….”
In July 2018 a Memorandum of Understanding stated that the Strategic Partners “unanimously agreed that the best next step would be to devote themselves to articulate how and for what purpose they intend to become Partners for Professional Excellence in Spiritual Care (PPESC).  The assumption is: by structured collaboration we are 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.” 
In April 2019 a Progress Report was released by all the Strategic Partners.  The central message of the progress report is, “The envisioned entity is being designed to accomplish both outward purposes for common efforts in advocacy, research, and marketing; and inward purposes for collaboration on certification, ethics, and other concerns for mutual benefit. Representatives unanimously agreed that each association’s unique contribution to the profession must be ensured, supported, and assisted to thrive. The common vision preserves each association’s unique voice and role while simultaneously creating a unified structure to capitalize on strategic opportunities and manage functions typical for a large organization.  A potential structure also envisions “Networks” that accept and support similarly-missioned spiritual care organizations. Much work still needs to be done to clarify elements of a proposed structure. Any proposal for a new affiliation will require the approval of each association according to its respective decision-making process.”
This brings me to the latest highlight.  The Strategic Partners met together this June during APC’s Annual Conference.  We agreed that we have done much of the necessary due diligence required before next decisions can be made.  We acknowledged that the future is ripe with both challenges and opportunities.  Specifically, we agreed to engage our respective boards about a next step. 
When the APC Board met after our Annual Meeting, we discussed the options available to us.  We believe APC’s strength puts us in a position of leadership in the profession.  We believe that the opportunities and challenges faced by the profession can be engaged through collaboration with our Strategic Partners.  In light of these and other considerations, the APC Board unanimously supported the continued due diligence process needed to determine how we and our partners may unite in services of our shared vision.
Three important notes –please do not overlook these:

1.  Neither I nor APC is speaking on behalf of our valued Partners.  Each Partner will make their own decision and communicate their decision at the appropriate time.

2.  Importantly, the APC Board did not vote any next step beyond a deeper dive with the groups that are willing and able to do so. The APC Board is willing to commit its energy to a created entity only if doing so is in the best interests of APC and who and what we serve.  Still a lot of work to be done; we are committed to working through it.

3.  Most importantly, you will be kept informed.  You will have many opportunities to ask questions, share your hopes and ideas, and raise concerns.  To be clear, a decision to merge will require your consent.  So, stay tuned and stay engaged.

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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