Changes in AAPC SE: Part 1 of 4

Dear Members and Friends of the Southeast Region AAPC,

It is an important season in the Southeast Region. Your Executive Committee and numerous other committees (Program, Certification, Finance, Personal and Pastoral Concerns, Local Chapters, Social Media) have worked steadily and creatively throughout the year. We are writing to update you on our work and to invite you into our process.

Today’s email is Part 1 of 4. Parts 2, 3, and 4 will follow on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We strongly encourage you to read these emails thoroughly, reflect on them, and bring your feedback to the Town Hall Meetings we will be hosting through the end of August. This is a lot of reading—we know!--but we want to share what’s happening, to name what we’re envisioning, and to ask your help in our next steps.

Changes in AAPC

Most of you are aware that the AAPC Board of Directors voted in Spring 2015 to decentralize the work of the association and to end the process for certification. On June 30, 2016, the AAPC office in Fairfax, Virginia, closed, and Doug Ronsheim, our Executive Director since 2003, retired. The association will continue to employ a bookkeeper to manage each region’s finances and an administrator to manage membership records, but all other work of the association is now happening at the regional level. Two regions have combined: the Southwest and the Rocky Mountain Plains, to form the West Region; and the Midwest and the Central, to form the Heartland Region.

Initiatives in the Southeast Region

In October 2015, at Kanuga, the membership of the Southeast Region began shaping our future by approving several action-focused initiatives. Since then, the Southeast Region has:

Ø hired an Education and Training Coordinator, Jennifer Martin, to increase continuing education events and opportunities for connection across the region;

Ø engaged Pat Eddinger as our regional administrator;

Ø begun conversation about developing new containers to hold the formation and recognition experiences formerly held in our certification process;

Ø begun our first-ever web-based theological case consultation group;

Ø worked to redesign our regional website as a space for connection and continuing education;

Ø assumed leadership to help the association reduce costs for membership data management and to redevelop the association’s website;

Ø begun work on a three-year financial plan to reduce dues;

Ø planned an incredible conference at Kanuga;

Ø and much, much more.

Beyond Initiatives, the Big Picture

In addition to all this “doing,” our Executive Committee has done considerable work and had much conversation about our “being.”

We began this conversation last summer, recognizing that we are an organization in crisis--an organization with a proud and magnificent history, to be sure, but also an organization strongly affected by cultural forces to which we have not adapted effectively and adeptly. We estimated that we have a five-year window to renew ourselves and create generative space for a next generation, or else we will be talking about how to die gracefully, gratefully, and with dignity.

Informed by our faith, we kept asking not “what must we do to survive?” but “what does the world need that we have resources to provide?” Again and again, we kept hearing these themes:

· we offer community, connection, and support

· we offer training and continuing education that go deep

· we combine psychotherapy and spirituality--not a thin, ungrounded spirituality, but a spirituality informed by deep theological traditions.

We asked questions about our identity:

· Are we counselors with a pastoral identity who welcome other counselors, even those without a pastoral identity, to sit in our circle?

· Or are we counselors who value spiritually-integrated work, some who claim pastoral identities and some who do not, who sit in circle together as equals?

· If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, who do we imagine will be here in 10 years?

· Who do we hope will be here in I0 years?

· Does the sign in our yard, “American Association of Pastoral Counselors,” invite those who do not know us to stop and come in for a visit? Or does it inhibit them?

AAPC people have been reflecting on these questions for decades, of course. In the circle of “praxis”--action-reflection-action--we have been great on reflection! But we have sometimes not been as strong on making decisions and taking action. We ourselves have experienced and named some of the barriers and fears that might even now keep us from acting. And we have encouraged one another that our present circumstance as an organization calls for courageous and Spirit-led action.

We also asked how the crisis in AAPC creates opportunities for us? What freedoms do we now have as a region that we did not have a year ago? What mistakes might we learn from and not repeat? What does new wine smell like? And what do new wineskins look like? What attachments, idolatries, or fears might constrict us? What can we do to make it easier for people to connect with one another and learn from one another?

We imagine that you have been reflecting on these questions, too, and we are eager to be in conversation with you about them. In Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this email series, we will share with you where our conversations have led us, and we will let you know where and when you can gather with us for conversation.

Finally, thank you for your faithfulness to the work you do and to AAPC. We appreciate especially those of you who have already paid your dues this year and those of you who will do so in the coming month. We look forward to the wisdom and energy you will bring to our life together.


Your Executive Committee

John Arey, Past-Chair of SE Region (

Dick Bruehl, Co-Chair of Local Chapters Committee (

Jim Coffman, Treasurer, Chair of Finance Committee (

Robert Cooke, Chair of Theological and Social Concerns Committee (

John Eddinger, Chair of Certification Committee (

Andrew Gee, Chair of Advocacy Committee (

David Harris, Chair of Leadership Development Committee (

JoEllen Holmes, Chair of Program Committee (

Russell Jones, Chair (

Rachel Matthews, Secretary (

Chris O’Rear, Chair of Communications Committee (

Donna Scott, Co-Chair of Local Chapters Committee (

Kathryn Summers, Vice-Chair (

David Verner, Chair of Personal and Pastoral Concerns Committee (

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We are a welcoming community of therapists and other professionals grounded in diverse spiritual traditions and communities of faith. Informed by research and science, we offer education, connection, and support for those engaged in vocations of compassion, transformation, and healing.

We invite all healing practitioners – pastoral counselors, psychotherapists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, ministers, coaches, physicians, nurses, public health workers, students in training in these professions, and others – to join us in this good work. ​ ~Adopted 2016

© 2016 by AAPC SE REGION