COMISS Report -- Georgia Chaplains
What Happened, Why &
What Can & Should Be Done
The following is given as was given to us many years ago. Self-explanatory and extremely informative of professional chaplaincy, I do not know of a more important document on “WHERE” professional chaplaincy needs to focus in the 21st century in the world to date. That Emmett Solomon took the lead in Texas is no surprise to those of us who have known him and appreciate his courage and leadership. His Restorative Justice Network Ministries is now going nationwide. He has been attempting to help do some of the substance of this report—all for the good the clients of the agencies involved.
Thought was given to editing it or cutting some stuff out. However, for anyone seriously interested in the Profession of Chaplaincy, therein is certainly sage advice. For those outside of the profession, there is certainly an indication of the great need for Chaplains to cooperate, for underlining the whole report is the scope of ignorance regarding Professional Chaplaincy that is to a great extent explained on this web site. To someone wishing to remain ignorant, this report might be a hazard to the cause, but to anyone sincerely encountering the obvious -- that chaplains facilitate human history's greatest resource for change -- this report in fact support the great NEED for fully credentialed chaplains in every institution.
It is in several sections. First, the initial Inter-Office memo by our former chief of chaplains. Then the Report itself.
We need to heed the sage advice of Solomon and the Report.
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Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Date: May 14, 1993,
Administrator of Chaplaincy Programs
is a document regarding government paid chaplains. It is appropriate
that you read it. Do not become alarmed by it. It does behoove us,
however, to become proactive.
I ask that each of you contact one ex-convict who has been part of your
program and who received major benefits from your ministry.
Ask him/her to write a testimonial.
I ask you then to send that testimonial to me.
this office will compile them and INFORMS, a Criminal Justice Ministry
Information Service will print them, or parts of them and mail them to our
legislators. We must educate
people about what we do. I know
that it is against your nature to do such things because you are here to serve
your God not for the praise of men. Believe
me, it is important to the continued ministry that you do this.
Please solicit good citizens who are willing to give their current name
and address so that the testimonies can be verified by any one who chooses to
I urge you to get to know your State Senator and State Representative.
This is especially important to those of you who are in new
your encouragement and prayers and offer to help them in what ever way you
can. This is
an effective method of becoming proactive.
I ask you to consider joining a service club in your community.
I hope that you participate in the ministerial meetings in your area.
Tell your story to as many churches as possible.
Recruit religious volunteers to assist you in your program.
Become known in your religious group in your area.
Do your ministry but do not think it is only within the fences of your
support is rooted in the general community.
The more you do to help the community and involve the community in your
program, the stronger chaplaincy in this state will be.
above mentioned list points out some of the ways to be proactive.
We try to employ chaplains who reflect a wide variety of religious
communities so that the major parts to the religious life in this state will
have a vested interest in chaplaincy. An
effort is being made to help our corps of chaplains to reflect the wide
diversity of the population. This
office will continue working on your behalf, but we all have responsibility to
let our story be known. It is
important for you to work amicably with your institutional administrators but
they cannot save your jobs. Our
relationship to the general community has much more to do with the survival of
the chaplaincy program than just getting along in the institution.
I do hope you will do your part in this effort.
ES/km cc: File
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ON MINISTRY IN SPECIALIZED SETTINGS
ISSUES TASK FORCE (PITF)
GEORGIA SITE VISIT TEAM REPORT: 7-27-92
Congress on Ministry in specialized Settings (COMISS) is a national organization
of organizations comprised of three types of constituent groups:
a) professional associations representing ministers and ministries in
specialized settings, b) religious bodies or denominations endorsing persons to
provide ministry in specialized settings, and c) agencies and institutions
employing persons to provide ministry in settings that include# for example,
prisons, hospitals, counseling and mental health centers, and congregations.
The religious organizations include representatives from major faith
groups in the United States.
meeting in December of 1991, formed its Public Issues Task Force (PITF),
instructing it, as its first priority, to visit the State of Georgia to learn
from the changes which had recently taken place there relative to State-employed
chaplains. These changes included
action to eliminate almost all State‑employed chaplains.
This action was later modified to allow provision of ministries on a
contractual basis with individual clergy, some of whom were formerly employed by
the State. Additional chaplaincy
services were to be provided by volunteer community clergy.
This was a major change in Georgia, which had been a recognized leader in
providing ministries to its citizens in State facilities.
PITF members who formed the Georgia Site Visit Team met in Atlanta, Georgia, on
May 13-16, 1992. The Team members
met with a variety of persons representing different parts of the community.
following report is issued by the COMISS Public Issues Task Force.
It represents the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the
Georgia Site Visit Team members.
PITF was instructed to gather data from persons involved in the Georgia
experience for the purpose of gaining learnings from the experience which would
help COMISS and its member organizations better strategize, anticipate, and
respond to possible similar State initiatives elsewhere.
Central questions to be
answered by the site visit included:
--What dynamics were involved in the decision(s) to
change the status of chaplaincy services in
--How did persons in different positions view the situation?
--What can be learned from the Georgia experience that
will Georgia Site Visit Team Report be instructive
for ministries in specialized settings?
Georgia Site Visit Team conducted interviews with participants in the Georgia
experience. In some cases, the
interviews were with official representatives of organizations directly
involved. In other cases the
interviews were with persons familiar with the event but who were not
officially representing any organization. The interviews were
conducted with a representative of the Governor's Office, legislators, religious
leaders, agency staff, chaplains affected by the Georgia decision, lobbyists,
members of the media, and advocacy group leaders.
These persons voluntarily met with the Team.
Their perspectives represented a mixture of individual and agency
official and unofficial views. In
addition, chaplains affected by the decision were invited to respond in written
form. Additionally, the Team reviewed several written documents
from legislative, executive, and agency sources.
Zell Miller was elected to serve as the Governor of Georgia in January 1991,
having served for a number of years as the Lieutenant Governor.
He ran with several platform statements, including the need to reduce
State spending and to implement a State lottery to produce a new source of
revenue for the State. Some
religious leaders opposed the Governor on the issue of the lottery.
first legislative session in Governor Miller's term was held from January
through March, 1991. Different from
many other states, the legislature of Georgia meets for its regular term for a
forty (40) day session. Since most
legislators bold other positions, this is a part-time legislature.
During this 1991 regular legislative session a balanced State budget was
adopted, as was required by Georgia statute.
The budget included an immediate 10% reduction in agency and department
budget that was adopted was, apparently, a very optimistic one.
As the year wore on, it became clear that income was not sufficient to
balance State expenses. An emergency special session of the State Legislature was
called for August of 1991. This
budgetary crisis was, among other things, the result of recessionary conditions
and especially the decrease in anticipated State revenue. There were two options: reduce spending or raise taxes.
The Governor decided to cut spending rather than to seek tax increases.
additional and potent task for this special session was also deciding on a
redistricting plan for the State, an issue not without its political and
personal-legislator-safety concerns. Given
these two major tasks this was a powerful, politically charged, and quick
One area to cut spending was to reduce the number of State employees, whose number had swelled to well over 100,000 in the past decade. As an additional incentive to this position, the Governor had appointed the Williams Commission to study State government and its organization, the first major study of this since Governor Jimmy Carter did so in the early 19701s. The report clearly develops recommendations to move toward the privatization of services now provided by the State. Simply put, privatization meant that services would increasingly be provided by non-State or private agencies. Because of the major emphasis on State-provided services over the past decade or so, there has not been a major development of not-for-profit service agencies. Privatization was and continues to be a major thrust of the ongoing recommendations of the Williams Commission.
budgetary package was presented to the legislators who were strongly encouraged
to vote for the package as a whole. This
budget was agreed to prior to the legislative session through a series of
meetings between executive and legislative personnel.
The presentation to the legislators was as a joint effort of legislative
and executive leadership. The total reduction package was approximately $400 million.
the political pressure to act quickly (since every day in session cost the State
more money), the session ended in ten(10) days. According to various sources there was little time for a
systematic review of budget reductions and their consequences, debate, or lobby
efforts. In the words of persons
familiar with the special legislative session, "It was a done deal."
This is in contrast to usual proposals that would have been discussed in
public hearings. This particular
budgetary action and its implications had no formal hearings and little public
discussion. Eventually, at its
ultimate passage there were less than $600,000 of changes in the $400 million
Within the budget reduction package was a proposal to eliminate chaplains from the State employment rolls in the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Corrections. This affected seventy-eight (78) chaplaincy positions. It was thought that local clergy would volunteer their services to the State institutions. These pastoral services would primarily be preaching and prayer. These were the major pastoral responsibilities provided by chaplains in the views of some legislators and administrative personnel not familiar with the services in fact offered by the chaplains nor familiar with the special skills, education, and credentials necessary to do them in State facilities.
Upon hearing of the proposal to eliminate chaplains, the
religious community responded primarily in an adversarial way.
This response came in letters to the Governor, to key legislators, and to
State agency heads, in a brief meeting with the Governor, in meetings with key
legislators, and in a press conference. COMISS
members and individual members of the professional associations were encouraged
to send letters expressing their concern about this proposed action as it would
affect services td patients, residents, and inmates In State institutions.
Important issues raised included the need for properly trained and
credentialed clergy to minister in specialized settings, chaplain accountability
in State institutions, and possible State legal exposure resulting from
improperly credentialed persons providing spiritual care in these specialized
In spite of these efforts, the legislature voted to eliminate almost all State-employed chaplaincy positions, as well as several hundred other positions. This did not result from a direct vote on the issue of chaplains, but rather was a consequence of the vote on the budget reductions, of which chaplaincy positions were only one relatively small piece. Funds were in some instances provided to purchase chaplaincy services from individual clergy on a contractual basis. Some currently serving chaplains were retained on a contractual basis, but they lost benefits and standing in their institutions. Some chaplains retired. Other chaplains left the State service and found other positions. Others became unemployed.
is clear that there are many different perspectives on what happened in Georgia,
why it happened, and what are the implications of the actions.
Since the PITF viewed its task as a learning one rather than an adversarial
activity, it will report what it learned from the various participants prior to
stating its conclusions and making its recommendations.
religious community there are diverse perspectives on why the Governor
supported/created a budget which included the effect of eliminating
State-employed chaplaincy positions. These
1. The Governor, the legislators, and some agency administrators had a very limited view of the role of a chaplain, both as to function and as to skills, education, and credentialing necessary to perform the functions. The primary view was that the chaplain was involved in preaching and prayer which could be provided on a volunteer basis.
Governor was retaliating for the religious community opposition to his proposal
for a lottery.
3. There are
different views about the role of the chaplain as a professional member of
treatment or rehabilitation team efforts. One
view is held primarily by the mainline Protestant community;
the other by the conservative religious community.
The latter views clergy in institutional settings primarily as an
evangelist responsible to preach, pray, and evangelize.
4. There is a
strong belief that the action of the religious community was not effective.
The perspective of the chaplains included:
1. They were completely caught off guard by the speed and reality of the action, and surprised that the total elimination of chaplaincy services as a State-funded operation would ever be considered or could actually happen in Georgia. As a result, there was considerable denial and inability to take action.
Mixed messages were received from administrators, with some saying this
would happen and others saying that it would and could not happen.
Mixed messages also surfaced around the issue of how the chaplains
actually were viewed by these administrators as well as persons of the executive
and legislative branches of the Georgia government.
, one view is that the chaplain is a preacher.
The other is that the chaplain is a clinician.
In this context, the "preacher" could be replaced by other
clergy, and the "clinician" could be replaced by persons necessary for
As a whole, the chaplains themselves were not clear as to an integration
of this professional split.
It did, however, make‑their positions vulnerable.
Money was not the issue, since the State was moving ahead in funding
other services and areas.
A clear sense of the chaplains was that this was the result of power and
politics, and that the so-called budgetary crisis was only a foil.
Many chaplains felt personally and professionally discounted after
providing years of service to patients, inmates, families, and staff members.
Most chaplains felt awkward in responding both in terms of
self-advocacy and restrictions imposed on State employees' involvement in
7. Some chaplains, particularly Southern Baptists, felt supported by their denomination, while others felt little support. The Southern Baptist Chaplains Department provided a retreat, financial assistant, and job placement services. In addition, the denomination led advocacy efforts. The Southern Baptists were the largest single denominational group effected by the budgetary reduction.
These perspectives were gained through a discussion with Governor Miller's Executive Assistant for Community Relations. Efforts to gain direct access to the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor were unsuccessful.
primary reason for the position cuts was economic. The State of Georgia
bad 112,000 employees. The economic growth in the 1970’s and 1980's in
Georgia was considerable, and the State budget grew accordingly. Where the
economy fell the existing number of State positions could not be maintained.
The Governor saw that the existing budget could not be met and called a special
session to redistrict and to cut expenses.
The chaplains were cut because this was proposed by the Department Heads.
It was thought that these employed positions could be cut and the services
provided by volunteer community clergy. This "sounded right" and
was feasible. Additionally, chaplains are not mandated by some agency
accreditation standards and, thus, were expendable. Where they were
mandated, as in some federally controlled correctional facilities, the chaplain
positions were retained.
There is a lack of understanding of the special training of chaplains, with the
clinical pastoral role not known and the prayer and worship role being the
dominant one perceived.
4. The chaplains bad no effective lobby. The political risk for everyone of cutting these positions was seen to be minimal by those voting on the budget and by those suggesting the budgetary reductions.
The religious community will need to provide chaplains on a volunteer or
contract basis. The State, in some instances, may pay for chaplaincy
services, but chaplains will no longer be full-time, paid State employees.
Chaplains are seen as needed (at least in terms of their prayer and worship
role), but there is a commitment by the Governor to not support chaplains as
following views were expressed during conversations with the legislators, all of
which are not necessarily in agreement one with another:
1. There was a serious budget crisis to be addressed and definitive action was needed.
2. A balanced budget package was presented to the legislature at a special emergency session, which also had to deal with the redistricting issue. The package was worked out in advance by the governor and legislative leadership. The governor agreed to present and back the budget, and thereby deflect some criticism from the legislators themselves.
There was little time to study the large complex budgetary package to become
familiar with all its ramifications, including the line-item elimination of the
chaplains as State employees.
Chaplains were not necessarily personally known by legislators, nor were the
specific and specially trained services that were provided.
The idea that volunteer clergy were available and could easily provide preaching
and prayer services sounded like a reasonable and acceptable way to save the
State money and to continue to provide religious services. Even some
constituent clergy who were asked agreed to do so. Some even volunteered
when word of the changes became public.
6. The religious community does not have an effective lobbying network. When, however, it did make its voice heard it was usually protesting something of a moralistic nature (e.g., lottery) or promoting a self‑serving issue(e.g., chaplaincy positions). The religious community is not generally seen as a helpful partner.
7. In the next session of the legislature bills were introduced into and passed by the Senate to reinstate some State-employed chaplaincy positions. This bill has never reached the floor ot the House, remaining in the House Rules Committee.
of Human Resources: The following were perspectives expressed during
conversations with agency/department personnel from Human Resources, which was
responsible for positions in the Georgia mental hospitals:
Chaplaincy is not a mandated service and, therefore, can be cut without
jeopardizing accreditations of any kind.
There was not a clear understanding of the level of training chaplains within
the system had and/or needed for their positions, and limited appreciation for
There was general acceptance of the notion that chaplains basically do worship
services (when they were not doing "clinical" things that could done
by other clinicians, some of whom are mandated workers because of
accreditation). This can be done by volunteers.
While chaplaincy positions were listed on the initial requested cut list, they
were not at the top of the prioritized list, but rather in the middle. The
Office of Planning and Budget selected chaplaincy for elimination while
bypassing some items higher on the list. Department personnel were not
involved in the discussion or proposal of the final cut list.
5. There is a movement toward the establishment of privatization of services within the department, and therefore to contractual arrangements for other services as well as chaplaincy.
Since chaplaincy positions were voted out by the legislature (which agency
personnel view as a policy decision), the department will not be proposing that
such positions be returned but will rather work to provide the services by way
of the contract route.
7. Unlike the Corrections division, there was no person or position to be a voice for chaplaincy within the central office.
Agency personnel indicate that they were told or mandated to cut State-funded
chaplaincy positions. Consequently, they saw themselves as having no
choice despite possible contrary personal or professional feelings.
Department of Corrections: Corrections was the second general area in which State-employed chaplaincy positions were cut. Perspectives here included:
Wardens were asked for a list of recommended reductions to meet the budget
requirements. Chaplains were not singled out initially. Later, the
wardens were told that the chaplains, positions would be eliminated by the
budget cuts. This is seen as a carry over effect from Human Resources.
Correctional agencies were told by the Office of Planning and Budget to
eliminate chaplains except at prisons under Federal court order. Later,
they were told that it would be possible to contract for chaplaincy services.
The concept of privatization of services in corrections included chaplains and
will include others in Georgia.
Political appointments of correctional chaplains was a problem especially since
most were white Christian males. In contrast, the Department was moving
for diversity in gender, race, and religious tradition.
In some prisons, chaplains were viewed as the best clinicians among the
disciplines going about their work professionally and relatively quietly.
However, others outside of the prison arena did not understand what the
chaplains actually did, nor their value. The fact that the value and
specific contributions of chaplains to the prisons was not well known, nor
apparently well communicated, made it easier for the decision makers to
eliminate State-employed chaplaincy services.
6. The governor himself employed two evangelists for the prison system. These persons were not clinically educated nor credentialed for this ministry. But they had been active in his election campaign. They were given a salary and an automobile. Their task was to evangelize in the prison system.
was sought from advocacy networks representing persons with mental illness,
mental retardation, and other developmental disabilities. These networks
were not active in efforts made to prevent the elimination of chaplains.
1. The proposed cuts included many in community and institutional services for people with mental illness and mental retardation and their families. The mental illness networks believed that they had to take the position of opposing all cuts, as a number of the cuts focused on community based training centers and workshops. The August cuts came on top of 1010 cuts already made during the year. Thus, chaplains were only one part of a number of the proposed cuts.
There was a lack of networking and coalition building between chaplains and the
religious community. While there have been some conferences in Georgia to
build partnerships between advocacy groups and the religious community, there
has been no ongoing networking at a statewide level. These networks
experienced no previous help from the religious community when their issues were
3. Little presence was seen of anyone actually advocating for the chaplains.
The crisis atmosphere and pressure to act created a real problem for all
advocacy groups. There was very little room or time for maneuvering or
compromising during the special legislative session. Advocacy groups that
did impact the process involved a combination of significant grass roots
lobbying with efforts around specific legislators. It was not possible to
build new coalitions around new issues in as brief a time frame as was
There was an advocacy effort by the Concerned Black Clergy in Atlanta to express
their fears that women and minorities would be the first to go in staff
reductions. This group got some media and executive attention.
Advocacy efforts for chaplains, on the other hand, would have meant advocating
for a group that was primarily white and male.
For the situation to have been changed radically, there needed to be more time
so that a grass roots effort could take place.
Input was solicited from the Religion Editor at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and from the reporters who cover State government through the Capital News Bureau. Their perspectives include:
There were a great number of political. issues leading up to, and during,
the special session. The chaplaincy story may have been a worthy and
interesting issue, but it had to compete with a wide variety of other
significant issues, and was seen as a relatively minor issue.
No active presence from the religious community was perceived on a regular basis
prior to the special session. As a result, there was no clear
communication network to flag quickly emerging issues. The religious
community is seen as reactive to issues rather than proactive. It is
also‑ not in regular contact with news media persons.
There are significant roles played by. chaplains which are not well-known.
The common view of chaplains as preachers and prayers or as an evangelist coming
in to lead a service is hard to change.
Apparently there was no approach to the press by those who were advocating for
chaplains to ask either for input or for help in how to access the media for
perspectives and contributions of the professional associations are somewhat
unknown by the persons involved in the Georgia event. Even though letters
were written, conversations were had, and positions were taken, there was little
mention of any of this by the chaplains or any of the key people involved (with
the exception of the Governor's Office who indicated that they became aware of
the specialized training of ACPE chaplains through contact from the ACPE
office). Some of the professional association perspectives include:
If this can happen in Georgia, it can happen anywhere.
The professional associations lacked significant presence in the situation or
power/influence to make a substantial difference.
Letters were written but not mentioned by anyone during the visit.
Support and advocacy were provided, but this was not mentioned by the chaplains.
Georgia lacks any State-level professional chaplaincy organization that might have been able to react or respond.
The PIFT Georgia Site Visit Team concludes the following,
after considerable discussion, and offers these conclusions to COMISS and its
processes that led to the elimination of the State-employed chaplaincy positions
were complicated and multi-faceted, making it every difficult to determine a
linear cause and effect. Complicating
this process was the general mechanism of persons laying responsibility for the
initiation of actions on others.
complexity and speed of the decision-making process made effective response
nearly impossible in the context of the lack of an already established
political/advocacy network. The
general and almost universal sense the Team received was that there was little
positive presence in the political arena of the religious community and no
positive presence either of chaplains as a group or of the professional
connections with already existing advocacy groups by the religious community or
the chaplains as a group were limited at best.
The speed of the process, combined with the relative lack of networking
by and political presence of the religious community and the chaplains as a
group, translated into relative ineffectiveness to bring change once the process
support that chaplaincy services did receive emerged too late and perhaps too
reactively. Effectiveness was
diminished by the factors indicated above, and by a lack of one organization or
key person to lead and coordinate.
expediency and fiscal concern drove the process. As a result, there was no legislative or public discussion of
the substantive issues of the State-employed chaplaincy or of the quality of
care provided by these chaplains.
5. No one in
key political positions knew (or acknowledged that they knew) what clinically
trained chaplains actually did, although all thought that they knew what a
clergyperson doest i.e., preach and pray. This
seemed to indicate a lack of effective relationship between the administrators,
elected officials, religious community, and the chaplains themselves.
Thus, there was also no effective spokesperson either within or without
the structure who spoke for the clinically trained chaplain.
performance and reputation of clinically trained chaplains seemed to have no
effect in the overall political process. Performance
and reputation was effective in the more institutionally local workplace, where
particular chaplains were given the opportunity either to return on a contract
basis, without benefits, or to move to another clinically based position
required by accreditation organizations.
7. In a
budgetary crisis, in a climate of package budgetary reductions, and in a highly
charged political environment full of possible misunderstandings of the actual
role and skills of a clinical chaplain, chaplains, their positions, and their
employment are vulnerable. Of the
700-800 jobs eliminated, approximately of them were chaplaincy positions.
does not seem to have had value when the political players change.
This reinforces the vulnerability which a number of programs likely face
but, in this case, underlines the vulnerability of State-funded chaplaincy.
If history is not a principal resource or safeguard, what is? Likely it is involvement in the political process at
multiple levels. Some advocacy
groups, well-known, active, organized, networked, and involved, were able to get
things changed and done even in the highly charged atmosphere.
though local and national response combined was not effective in changing the
outcome, there was a sense that an organized local level advocacy effort might
have made a difference. There is
little evidence that an organized national response would have made a
and fiscal concerns and interests will continue to increase in strength in
determining whether clergy will serve as chaplains in a State-funded employee
relationship to the State. While
these concerns are not new, having been identified for some time by many
chaplains who work in State systems, their increased importance comes as
economic conditions deteriorate.
of clergy to serve emotionally troubled persons, disabled persons, and persons
in difficulty with the law has been viewed as important by agency
representatives, theological schools, and the religious community. Clergy have been identified as key front-line caretakers in
communities; clergy with specialized education have been viewed as important in
institutions. There is little
evidence that the loss of education for theological students and clergy was ever
considered or addressed in any discussions concerning the decision to eliminate
chaplains. Four Association for
Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) accredited centers were affected.
These centers had provided important clinical learning for theological
students for almost thirty years.
A. For Effective Chaplaincy to Continue:
If clinical chaplaincy in State institutions is to
continue to be funded by the public sector, the "ways" of the public
sector need to be understood, dealt with proactively, and managed creatively by
the local, regional, and State-wide pastoral care community.
Being active, informed, and astute in settings and contexts where service
is provided is crucial. The
following attitudes and activities point in such a direction:
Interpret continually the role of the clinically-trained
chaplain and the value the chaplain’s work to the full range of decision
makers. The data needed for this include documentation of activities
and studies produced to demonstrate the contribution of chaplaincy to the
institution's goals and the effectiveness of the chaplain's activities in
relationship to those goals. The
attitude needed for this is a desire to enter the political and administrative
worlds of the State bureaucracy prior to a crisis in order to build the
necessary foundation with key leadership.
Be aware of the political dynamics which
impact chaplaincy, assess continually the vulnerability of the chaplaincy
positions to various political forces, and develop compatibility with
institutional aims. Suggestions in
this regard include:
someone to monitor the budgeting process to bring rapid attention to the items
that will affect the chaplain and the religious community.
initiatives with the State (a “How can we help you do what you want to do?”
attitude) in building a pastoral care service plan.
attention to agency mission statements and what their administration wants.
Document what activities complement those goals.
Be prepared to adapt programs and make changes as the agency and/or its
diversity within clinical chaplaincy corps, e.g., in race, gender, and faith
legislators. Meet with them.
Find out what they need, and how chaplains can be a part of addressing
Maintain strong ties with community clergy, judicatories,
local ecumenical groups, and professional associations.
Being a lone ranger is contraindicated.
Suggestions in this regard include:
especially the above groups of specific clinical chaplain activities and their
Work to identify and/or develop networks of resources within the
religious community for specific populations served.
Develop a local and State‑wide response network that can quickly
mobilize on a number of different but related issues.
Develop broadly-based community ties that relate to the broad
issues of human care and justice. Suggestions
in this regard include:
a. Join or
create a system that can both monitor and respond to issues relevant to ministry
in specialized settings.
Partner with other groups, such as legislators, community organizations,
advocacy groups, and coalitions which are at work on human care and justice
active in issues broader than job protection.
Persons who surface on the political scene only when certain jobs are at
issue are perceived as being self-serving.
Advocacy groups, legislators, executive administrators, and the like need
to interact with chaplains on a multitude of issues and have the experience of
making a common cause.
The involvement of a religious view in issues of health and public
concern can be valued.
B. Responding to Such Crises in the Future:
COMISS and its member organizations may not be
particularly effective in responding directly to a local, regional, or
State-wide issue. But, COMISS and
its member organizations can lead the way both in being a champion of the cause
of pastoral care relevancy an effectiveness and in developing strategies,
networks, and conceptualizations important to the ongoing expression of ministry
in specialized settings. To this
end, COMISS and its member organizations could:
Encourage the development of state organizations which will
develop a system that both monitors and responds to issues relevant to the
pastoral care, counseling, and education movement.
Help to develop new paradigms for pastoral care in specialized
settings. For instance, some
consider the term "chaplain" to be limiting in adequately defining the
role and responsibilities of pastoral care providers in specialized settings.
Study and develop funding options for ministry in specialized
settings. Reliance on the goodwill
of persons within a State system is an acceptable strategy only in times of
adequate financial resources. In
tight financial times the rules of interaction change.
Having alternatives to the old funding patterns seems necessary and
Commission research on the contributions of chaplains to the
treatment and rehabilitation process.
Develop an educational program to inform the religious community,
elected officials, an agency representatives about the role, training, and
services provided by persons providing pastoral services in specialized
Formulate pastoral care concerns in the context of
broader-based human care questions, and thus take a national initiative in
relating to other national organizations around issues that both include and
transcend those limited to specific pastoral care concerns.
Offer tangible support to persons impacted by such a crisis,
especially the chaplains who are without employment.
This support might include, but should not be limited to, placement
services, financial assistance, support groups, and retreats.
Georgia Site Visit Team and the COMISS Public Issues Task Force wish to thank
all those persons who so graciously gave of their tire to be interviewed.
In almost all cases, responses to the Team were welcoming, facilitative,
Team also wishes to thank all those persons and organizations which contributed
either time or funds to make this visit a reality. We especially commend the offices of the Association for
Clinical Pastoral Education in Decatur, Georgia, for their hospitality in
providing the meeting site and accompanying office resources.
Team additionally wishes to acknowledge the concerned, creative, and collegial
spirit which developed among its members. Opinions
were often diverse, at times animated, and certainly spirited.
Through it all, however, the common thread of concern for the ministry of
pastoral care, counseling, and education in specialized settings remained
Team offers this report to the PITF of COMISS and, thereby, to COMISS and its
member organizations in the fervent hope that the ministry of pastoral care,
counseling, and education in specialized settings can be furthered and deepened.
Bruce M. Hartung--Georgia
Site Visit Team Chair
Carlson, George Doebler, William Gaventa, John Gleason, Arne Jessen, Timothy
Little, Duane Parker, Kathy Turner--Georgia Site Visit Team Members
Note: the wisdom of this report speaks for itself to every well-informed state-paid chaplain. We facilitate human history's greatest resource and do this on a level that no volunteer can ever do. We need to articulate our profession and continue to join together.