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Message from the APC President

by APC President Kimberly Murman MDiv MBA BCC
APC Forum, July 2017, Vol. 19 No. 5

The President’s Speech from the 2017 APC Annual Conference
 
The 2017 APC annual conference and our Grand Banquet is a night to celebrate not only our past and our present, but certainly in the conferring of BCC on so many new colleagues - a direct connection to our future.
 
As we gathered together this week, many of us had the opportunity to connect with long-time colleagues. Some of us met new people who may become treasured friends and colleagues or people who will become important to our ministry now or in the future.  All of us have seen the excitement on the faces of our brothers and sisters who are being awarded their BCC certificates tonight. 
 
Every year at the annual conference, I am reminded anew that none of us came to this ministry alone or Board Certification alone or our present/future places of employment alone. We did not get to this place alone and we do not live here alone. We are a unified community.
 
I would invite each of us to take the opportunity to reflect on the journey that led from your call to this ministry to the position you have now or the position to which you aspire – who are the people in front of you, or beside you, walking with you or to nurture and support you?
 
To those people we give gratitude. I invite you to take a moment in the next day, or the next week to pick up the phone or a pen and say thank you!  We need to be reminded of our past journey from time to time to be clear about the direction we are going.
 
Frederick Buechner, writes in his book, The Sacred Journey:
            “What quickens my pulse now is the stretch ahead rather than the one behind, and it is mainly for some clue to where I am going that I search through where I have been, for some hint as to who I am becoming or failing to become…. Faith is what makes the journey bearable. Faith is both the dreaming and the crying. When faith ends, the journey ends…”
 
One of the gifts within our discipline is the passion that is ignited and opens our “awakeness” and awareness of the deep needs of the world, the deep challenges of society and the strength and frailty of the human spirit.  Indeed – time after time we find ourselves in a place where gratitude, sadness, righteous anger and love exist at once.
 
Pema Chodron writes, “Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary (and extraordinary) lives.” In the ordinariness of the chaplain day, the never-ending events transport us into situation after situation where there is always an invitation to step outside the box, to shift our perception, to make possible extraordinary sacred space.
 
Where the world is uncertain, we, as professional chaplains, step in. Where the world is two steps behind – we, as chaplains prophetically see and respond. This is as true now as it was in the 1980s when many of us were starting out our ministry in the middle of the AIDS crisis and Central American political and social justice crisis.
 
In 1989, ten years before I transitioned into chaplaincy, I visited the AIDS Memorial Quilt as it was displayed in front of the White House - in its entirety for the last time. Though I had seen it before, I was moved to tears by the panels made for young children, infants, and by the sheer numbers who had died from this horrible disease. I walked with Janie Spahr, a pastor friend of mine whose ministry was in the AIDS community in Northern California. Far too often she pointed out a panel and said “I buried that person.” She would talk to me about the rich life and moving death of the person. Once she looked at me and said, “Kimberly I’ve buried so many. The faces I remember, the names I forget.” Finally, I asked why she stayed in a ministry of pain, loss, and grief. She said, “I came to love them. I learn so much from them. They push me beyond everything I know and am. They help me grow spiritually-I help them-we grow together.” Is not this our experience every day?
 
The social crises of our time are before us. We see them every day. We hear their stories, we come to love them, our hearts break with the truth of the matter, our tears and our laughter form the basis of the change that is in us and comes from us.  So in addition to everything we have heard in this conference, when we talk about the powerful voice of chaplaincy – we need to remember that ultimately it is us!
 
One of the things that we can never, ever forget is that APC, as the leader in professional chaplaincy, is a reflection of who we are. We do not have the luxury of expecting APC to do things for us because we are APC.
 
We are a member-driven organization and that is the identity by which we are moved to act, create and bring forward what we need to thrive and flourish in this era of uncertainty. If we are going to continue to thrive and flourish, each member needs to be as committed and engaged in their own way as our Board and national staff.
 
APC, as an organization, is eager to learn from each one of us and I hope you will share your experience. I hope you will continue to ask the questions you’re asking and work together to answer those questions. When you look at a diamond from the perspective of its many facets, it looks different. It is only when we begin to share with each other our different perspectives that we begin to see a total view – of which now we know only a little part.
 
We must continue to work together to make APC the organization and virtual community that serves our needs and the needs of the profession as it advances into the future.  
 
You have a committed, diverse, hard-working and intelligent Board of Directors who is hard at work leading, implementing and refining a governance, strategic plan and path that will position us for the future to be more nimble and responsive to the changes in chaplaincy.  The Board is committed to focusing on that strategic plan -  certainly there are times and places where we hear the GPS voice telling us to re-calculate. It routes us around traffic and road construction. The goal is always the focus. By keeping that focus, those things that would be barriers are not even in our sight.
 
We have a national office staff that is second to none. They work tirelessly toward the goals of APC to make us stronger and with our committees, task forces and projects to make us more responsive to you, the members, and the larger professional chaplaincy arena. The work of those committees, task forces and projects is brought to life by you, the members serving on those entities. Without the time and energy of those persons, the work does not happen.  We are each given gifts both personally and for work in the world. These gifts work together for unity - a unity which does not mean like mindedness. The sum of our uniqueness creates the totality of the APC work.  Thank you for your time, your engagement in the future of professional chaplaincy.
 
Over the course of the conference through the annual meeting and conference materials, we have let you know of the accomplishments of APC this past year and the many ways we are involved with the leading the profession in the larger community.  There is much more work to be done and the second half of 2017 will be just as busy.  
 
As the leader in chaplaincy care, we are strongest when the powerful voice of chaplaincy resounds with your engagement and your voice. Again, I thank you.    
 
To those of you who will be coming forward to receive your certificate tonight, it is our pleasure to present it and welcome you to this heritage of board certified chaplaincy.  Before you come forward to receive the piece of parchment which certifies that you have run the race, that you have finished the course, and have kept the faith, I hope that you will also reflect on what it means for you to be henceforth marked as an APC board-certified chaplain.
 
Your journey is unique and it was, most likely, not easy.  As you accept your certificate marking you as one who has come through the rigors of graduate theological education, through CPE and successfully completed your peer certification interview, I hope you always hold fast to the knowledge that somehow you are enhanced in this process; that somehow the exhortations of everyone around you for the length of time you’ve engaged in the process have worked to allow the professional board-certified chaplain to emerge.
 
I assure you that as you begin to function in the places that have called you to ministry, the distinctive education and your faith tradition and the history of APC will mark you as someone special – as someone who is unique in your style of leadership and in your spirit of standing with – that you be the face of the Divine as you understand Him and as the client desires - in a world with so many needs.
 
For new and longtime BCCs alike – may I just say – “In the work that you do, you are well lifted up” in the history and collegiality of APC.     Many Blessings.  

Kimberly Murman, MDiv, MBA, BCC is the Sr. Manager of Spiritual Care/ACPE for Banner Desert and Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, AZ. She serves as president of APC and may be contacted at kimberly.murman.bcc@gmail.com 

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