What will we continue to create?
Greetings and blessed 2022 to all of you! My name is Shawn Mai, and I am the new board chair for the ACPE Board of Directors. For the last two years, I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside Melissa Walker-Luckett as she chaired the board. I am an ACPE Educator at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis, MN. I am married to my husband Chuck, have two children and three grandchildren. Several years ago, I decided to work four days a week and provide childcare for our grandchildren one day a week. My grandchildren offer a source for some of my most significant learning in life right now. Chuck and I reside in downtown Minneapolis during the week and spend our weekends on a lake in western Wisconsin. The old-growth birch in our woods is an important grounding place for me as I navigate a very different pandemic world like you.
As I prepared to write this first article as ACPE Board Chair, I heard of Stu Plummer’s death. The word of Stu’s death brought a flood of memories of my time at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s in Denver, Colorado, and my residency in 1990-1991. When I think about my experience that year, I feel deep gratitude for the program that Stu built. Stu had just recently retired back then, but his wife Maxine Glaz remained part of the CPE faculty. The program was a network of sites in different locations around Denver. It provided me with experiences in a university medical center, the general public hospital, and the specialty care of three different sites in the Presbyterian/St. Luke’s system. The other residents and SIT’s in the program (four total, all four have gone on to impact spiritual care in significant ways) were a stellar group of colleagues from around the country. Stu’s relational prowess had built an innovative program in multiple places that continue to have its impact years later.
It is that same innovative relational prowess that continues in ACPE. It’s what we draw on in times such as this. There was much disappointment in APC’s decision to discontinue merger talks, but ACPE remains committed to our working relationship and a shared conference in May. The ACPE Board met several days after APC’s announcement. We grieved the decision, and we will continue to be cognizant of that grief. In January, we will pick up some of the good work done by the implementation task force and build on what kind of alliances will support the strengthening of the disciplines of spiritual care and education.
Members like Stu Plummer built an organization that has existed because it is always in the process of becoming. I am a remarkably sentimental person. Over the last couple of days, I’ve felt a longing for St. Luke’s, where I placed in my CPE residency. The building is long gone (it was a set for Dick Van Dyke’s medical program and then torn down), Presbyterian/St. Luke’s has been bought and sold multiple times, but the program graduates continue to make their mark as leaders in ministry and health care. We have a sacred responsibility to care for a legacy and to hold faith for what’s to come. We have our challenges (pandemic, changing way of life, an overly stressed health care system, rapidly changing theological education system, etc.), and we are a collection of great wisdom, talent, and innovation.
I look forward to what we will continue to create.
Rev. Shawn Mai, ACPE Certified Educator at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN, serves as Chair of the Board of Directors. He may be contacted at email@example.com