Moving Forward…Together

Written by Cecelia Walker, ACPE Board Chair

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. (African Proverb)

The last two years serving as Chair-elect of the ACPE Board gave me a view of the association that I had previously not experienced. I have always respected the commitment that our members make to keep ACPE running by volunteering their time, talents, and treasures. Interacting with the ACPE staff, the Board, commissions, committees, and workgroups over the years has deepened my appreciation and enlightened my understanding.

As a leader, I strive to be trustworthy and transparent.  I believe that as Spiritual Care Professionals these qualities are essential to building relationships that are beneficial to our students, patients, and clients.  As we continue to live in a transitional space on multiple levels, you can be sure that your leadership is striving to be transparent and trustworthy in ways that honor the confidence you have placed in us.  I never expected to be in this role. I am humbled and excited by the opportunity. And, because I care deeply, I am nervous.  I want you to know that while none of us will get everything we want, I will always be respectful and honor each of you. 

One of the ways I hope to earn your trust is by providing an overview of the ongoing work of the association. I know that much of what we do seems to take a long time, but I assure you that we are listening to you, and we are working very hard. We have poured over the notes from the virtual and in-person listening sessions many times, and I feel certain that you will see evidence of some of the ideas gathered from those meaningful meetings as our strategic plan begins to take shape.  

Executive Director Search 
The Executive Search Committee continues its work to find ACPE’s new Executive Director. Since ACPE is an affiliate program through Emory University, the committee has worked closely with the University’s HR department throughout the past year.  In November we hired Cowart Consulting Group, Inc. to help with testing, background checks, and gathering references.

ACPE Board
The Board met on January 31st for the orientation of our new members and reorientation for returning members. We welcomed three new members: Chair-elect Matthew Rhodes and Directors Katherine Higgins and Jenny Lannom.

We spent the time reflecting on our roles and responsibilities as we serve ACPE. The major takeaway for me as we prepared the presentation and subsequently shared it with the Board is that we are tasked with doing the very best we can for ACPE, not to advance our agendas or favor the programs we serve. 

Finally, for as long as I can remember the month of February has held an important place in my development. I was in the eleventh grade when “Negro History Week” became Black History Month. Knowing that time was set aside to focus on the contributions and impact of my ancestors encouraged me as I dealt with the challenges that came with growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during the turbulent 1960s. It would have been easy to buy into the loud chorus that said that people of African descent were not capable of making positive and meaningful contributions to the world.

Fortunately, my family, Church, school, and community made sure that we understood the contributions of our ancestors and contemporary leaders in literally every walk of life. Black History was taught daily as we were charged by precept and example to do whatever good we could, for whomever we could, and whenever we could with excellence. I learned to honor and respect every person. In honor of Black History Month, I would like to close with the last three stanzas of Maya Angelou’s poem “Human Family”:

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.


Blessings Always, Cecelia

Rev. Dr. Cecelia Walker is a Certified Educator at The Ingalls Center of Pastoral Ministries in the Baptist Health System in Birmingham, Alabama. She is currently serving as Chair of the ACPE Board of Directors. She can be reached at