As Busy as a Summer Bee

Written by Melissa Walker-Luckett

Melissa smiling at camera

The summer has flown by quickly. For many of us, we will soon be saying goodbye to our Summer CPE Group, our Residents soon after, and then welcoming new folk to fill their shoes. I think of the summer intensive unit as filled with the longest days, while the weeks seem to whizz by in the commotion.

The ACPE board recently met on July 28. In our meeting, we heard reports from various ACPE leaders, and it was evident how hard our association has worked this summer. We heard from our accountants and our Secretary/Treasurer Linda Wilkerson that we are in good financial standing. The board voted to learn more about how our banking resources and institutions mirror our association’s commitment to anti-racism.

From our Accreditation Commission, we received a proposal:

To enable the Accreditation Commission to offer accreditation to programs outside of the US and its territories, we propose that the board authorize one additional member of the commission who will also serve as the chair of the International Relations Committee, as well as the authorization to add a second member should the workload require it. The representative would be a voting member of the commission and have a portfolio of virtual centers, as these centers are enrolling international students and accredited centers outside of the US. The International Relations Committee would remain a committee of the board but will work in collaboration with the Accreditation Commission and continue to function as the liaison for issues related to reciprocity and the establishment of centers.

For many years, we have had Certified Educators collaborate with institutions in countries across the world with appreciable results but only for a unit or two. The new process will allow for accreditation of centers in other counties. ACPE’s recognition as an accreditor is limited to accreditation within the United States and its territories; however, we can accredit programs outside of the United States. Accreditation of international centers is good news for many persons desiring CPE for their contexts. Training their spiritual care constituents will enhance the care provided in their communities. The board unanimously approved the proposal.

We also heard an update regarding ACPE Educator certifications. As the Certification Commission reviewed the number of persons in the “new” process, they recognized the differences in CEC position structures. The time allotted for CECs to engage in the certification process affects the rate of progression through the process. The commission continues to analyze the data in its ongoing evaluation of the new process. The commission also developed a strategy to increase the number of Theory Paper Mentors and expand the diversity of the mentor pool. Twelve (12) persons earned certification in the new process since we adopted it in 2019. Considering that we anticipated the new process to require three to four years to complete, we are encouraged by the success rate, especially considering the commission and candidates have worked and adapted during a global pandemic for the last 16 months.

Another proposal, “Mapping the Issues in Faith Group Endorsement for Chaplain and CPE Educator Certification,” came from the Research Committee. For some chaplains and educators, their faith groups do not provide endorsement, which can cause delays in certification and increase work for the candidates and their respective certifying bodies. As our language has begun to change from pastoral care to spiritual care, depicting a broader, more inclusive idea of what the chaplain provides to persons in their care, some have wondered about the use of “endorsement” for chaplains and educators. ACPE, APC, and Transforming Chaplaincy will work jointly to conduct the study on faith group endorsement. The board also unanimously approved this proposal.

The aim of the project is:

In light of the concerns that have been identified, we propose a project to map the issues associated with faith group endorsement for chaplaincy board certification and CPE Educator certification. In accordance with standard research procedures, any question about the current status and necessity of faith endorsement will be open-ended and free of bias towards a desired outcome. Specifically, the aim of the project is to provide a preliminary map of the issues that can inform professional chaplaincy organizations’ conversations about the topic. Informed by this preliminary map and the deliberations of the organizations, future research could explore the subject of faith group endorsement in greater depth, including comprehensive surveys of practices and opinions regarding chaplain and educator faith group endorsement.

Additionally, the board heard a proposal from ACPE Certified Educator Sean Doll O’Mahoney, M.Div., BCC, to consider a task force to “develop a strategy for developing new centers focused on an assessed need in certain areas and/or our anti-racism commitment.” The task force will include both Certified Educators and Psychotherapists members. The board wholeheartedly agreed with the proposal and passed it.

The Leadership Development Committee worked diligently to review the slate of candidates for the Implementation Workgroup ballot. We received an excellent response to our call for nominations. It is crucial to the board and the association’s commitment to anti-racism that our Implementation Workgroup be diverse. Considerations in nominations were:

  • Experience in ACPE leadership
  • Commitment to the consolidation with APC
  • Understanding of the time commitment needed to participate
  • Experience in change management
  • Diversity

Important election dates to remember:

  • August 11 – Polls open
  • August 25 – Polls close
  • August 30 – Election results published in the newsletter, website, and SharePoint

Finally, this week we celebrate #ACPEproud! During this time, we will remember our colleagues who died throughout the year, honor our service award recipients, and celebrate our newly certified and accredited members. ACPE will distribute the videos via email and our social media channels. Please join me in reflection as we commemorate how we heal, strengthen, and transform people and communities throughout the US and globally.

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