April 25, 2019


Representatives from ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education (ACPE), Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), Canadian Association for Spiritual Care/Association Canadienne de soins spirituels (CASC/ACSS), National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC), and Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) (hereafter “the Associations”) met March 18-19, 2019 in Miami, Florida at the offices of NAJC to examine a structure that reorganizes the associations into an entity while maintaining the unique and irreplaceable identity and contribution of each association to the profession. The representatives believe that working together is the best way to ensure the future of the profession and, by extension, to ensure that those receiving care and education will be served by the very best spiritual care professionals.


The meeting built on the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Associations in July 2018 and widely shared with all members. The MOU stated that our organizations would propose “a structure for mutual engagement and commitment that includes how to: share responsibility/ authority (representation, governance); how to direct, drive, and support agreed- upon projects (leadership/staff); and how to sustain the created entity (funding).” Thus, we are pursuing these common objectives, responsibilities, and conditions for participation, as well as a timeline through 2020 as the MOU stated.

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. Due to previously established priorities already in motion, CASC/ACSS leaders stated that they would participate within such a network relationship rather than as a formal entity within a potential new structure. 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.


In the coming weeks:

  • Membership will receive progress reports that convey timely and relevant processes and content.
  • The Associations’ Boards will examine, critique, and modify the work product from this meeting.
  • Mission, vision, and values for a potential entity will be drafted.
  • A name for a potential entity will be proposed.
  • A timeline for this process will be refined and the necessary preliminary operational tactics
  • The already on-going ethics and advocacy projects among the Associations will continue.
    Plans are underway for member engagement in the process at the 2020 joint conference. Additional updates will follow in the coming weeks. Please share questions by emailing or reach out to your association’s representatives listed below.

Pat Appelhans, JD, APC CEO
Claire Bamberg, D.Min., LMHC, LMFT, ACPE (former AAPC Vice-President) Wally Fletcher, D.Min., NCPsyA. ACPE (former AAPC Director-at-Large) Rafael Goldstein, D.Min., BCC, NAJC Executive Director
Amy Greene, M.Div., D.Min., Certified Educator, ACPE Board Chair
Trace Haythorn, Ph.D., ACPE Executive Director
Sandra Katz, D.Min., BCC, NAJC President
Bryan Kinzbrunner, BCC, NAJC President Elect
Jim Letourneau, M.Div., LMSW, BCC, NACC Board Chair
Melissa Walker-Luckett, M.Div., Certified Educator, ACPE Board Chair Elect David Lichter, D.Min., NACC Executive Director
Elaine Nagy, M.Div., R.P., CASC/ACSS President
Ronald Oliver, Ph.D., MBA, BCC, APC President
Joe Perez, M.Div., BCC, APC President Elect