Another Year Filled with Firsts….and Promise

Written by Melissa Walker-Luckett

Melissa smiling at camera

I don’t know about you, and yet, I know I am not alone or even in a minority saying, “I am tired of all the unprecedented events” of the past year.

This pandemic is not the only one in US history, nor will it be the last. Since late February 2020, we’ve witnessed cities devastated and fellow citizens financially ruined. We watched our colleagues become heroes and advocates for our discipline of spiritual care. We’ve adapted our care for families and patients separated physically as they faced the death(s) of beloved parents, children, and spouses/partners. We have mourned the loss of friends and colleagues in ACPE. We’ve learned how to console and encourage each other and our colleagues everywhere we serve. We’ve counseled those in our practices who are weighed down with solitude, loneliness, or fear. We’ve been integral in sustaining the hope of gathering in our places of worship in safe and healthy ways. AND, we’ve found creative and actionable ways to safely bring CPE Groups “together” for meaningful and growth-inducing curriculum. We even came together over virtual media to have our annual conference. We learned from all these experiences and we continue to learn.

As an association, we value regular learning, continuing education, and reflection on the work we do and how we do it. The Curriculum and Educational Resources Committee, which was inaugurated as a Board Committee about three years ago, has increased its meeting schedule and is working diligently to curate and develop resources for educators in the areas of assessment and evaluation, as well as laying the groundwork for the collection and review of general resources for educators on a wide variety of topics. I am grateful to ACPE Certified Educator Emeritus John Pumphrey for chairing this committee and for leading the committee’s work.

In January, I participated in the virtual gatherings of two groups known to many of us: The COMISS Network: The Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings and the Association of Muslim Chaplains (AMC). The educational presentation for the COMISS gathering was led by ACPE Certified Educator and new ACPE Board member, Tammerie Day. As a result of the graciousness of the AMC, I virtually attended several engaging and informative seminars. Each presentation was directed toward the goal of preparing Muslim chaplains for their responsibilities in a variety of venues, including, university campuses, healthcare, military, and industry. One of the most enlightening presentations was “Prophetic Radical Love” with Dr. Ovid Safi. A few other notable educational experiences are: a video on the history of ACPE with Kitty Garlid, Bill Scrivener, and Chris Brown; a presentation from the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab by Dr. Su Yon Pak on the experience of “weathering” the pandemic as an Asian woman; and a workshop by recently certified ACPE Educator, Jawad Bayat, regarding the inclusion of CPE as part of the educational preparation for becoming a Muslim Chaplain. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to participate in AMC’s collegial and thought-provoking conference.

This year we will again have our Annual Conference virtually. The conference planning is fully underway and final preparations are being made. I hope you will mark your calendars, plan to attend, participate in the chats and breakout rooms, and get to know new folk. There are newly certified members to congratulate, dedicated colleagues to honor, and innovative accomplishments to support.

With the guidance of La Piana Consulting, the Executive Committee of the ACPE and the Executive Committee of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) remain in conversation around the opportunities of coming together to do our work. Both entities have provided data for a financial due diligence. We met virtually on Monday, January 25 to affirm our like-minded efforts and respond to concerns of new Executive Committee members. We will meet again after both groups have met with their full boards to continue to make our way to a resolution.

We agree that our joint efforts in training and providing quality spiritual care providers for those in healthcare, the military, industry, and the broad spectrum of entities employing and valuing the expertise of chaplains in our local communities, is a value to the world and to those in need of spiritual care. 

Over the last year, I’ve been living in an almost constant state of anticipation of the next thing. At least one of these events I experienced as amazing and long overdue. My inner child feared it wouldn’t happen just because I have hoped for it for so long! But, it happened! 

January 20, 2021, Senator Kamala Harris, the First Woman, the First Black Woman, the First Woman of Asian and Caribbean parentage, was sworn into office as the Vice President of the United States by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, the First Latinx Female Supreme Court Justice of the United States. THAT was worth the wait! I hope it is just the beginning of a year filled with firsts as monumental and promising as January 20th.

Rev. Melissa Walker-Luckett, ACPE Certified Educator at Children's Health Children's Medical Center Dallas in Dallas, TX, serves as Chair of the Board of Directors. She may be contacted at