FAQs about the ACPE-APC Proposed Merger
ACPE and APC members continue to ask great questions about the proposed merger. Below are a list of additional frequently asked questions. Have a question? Submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What is the proposed ACPE-APC merger?
After decades of collaboration and a few years of negotiations, the Boards of Directors of the ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education and the Association of Professional Chaplains met concurrently on March 18, 2021 at 10:00am EDT/9:00am CDT to entertain a motion that the organizations officially merge. Both organizations approved the motion. View a history of the association’s collaboration.
In August, ACPE will hold an election to elect our representatives to a Merger Implementation Workgroup. Eight ACPE representatives will work with eight APC members to draft the bylaws, a governance structure, membership categories, and staffing requirements of a consolidated organization. Throughout their process, the implementation workgroup will engage members to elicit their feedback on the proposed design. At the completion of their work, the implementation workgroup will provide members of both organizations with a complete package of the new organization's bylaws and governance, so the members will have a full picture of the proposed new organization before they vote.
2. What is driving the desire to merge? Is it finances?
While ACPE and APC have several specific reasons for the merger, the leadership of both associations believe we are better together: better for our members and better for the people we serve. Here are some of the reasons:
- First, ACPE and APC members are asking for more robust advocacy on their behalf with their institutions, with state and federal agencies, and with partner associations and entities. An organization of 8000-9000 members will have much greater standing to affect the changes our members wish to see in their industries.
- Second, when ACPE and APC were formed, the primary concern was not the preparation and ongoing development of professional spiritual care providers; it was the formation of clergy (and overwhelmingly Christian pastors and priests). We are a much more multi-faith world and profession today. In addition, as congregational leadership has declined for decades, chaplaincy and professional spiritual care has steadily grown.
- Third, this merger will position the new organization to help shape the emerging need for new kinds of religious leadership, forms which will likely dominate the religious landscape in the next decade.
- Fourth, the world is not what it was when these organizations were formed: both the world at large and the world of spiritual care. In 1968, two organizations provided clinical pastoral education. In 2020, we have identified 19 different organizations offering something called CPE or CPT. In addition to APC, we have identified 28 other organizations that “certify” chaplains, though some require only a small payment with a completed application. Not only is the market more competitive, but the marks of quality are also more difficult to distinguish.
- Fifth, the competitive market has also created significant confusion for students and those interested in pursuing careers as professional, certified spiritual care providers. A merger would allow our organizations to provide a pipeline from those who first come into CPE to those who are certified as chaplains to those who are certified as educators. We also will bring the skills and resources of the former AAPC counselors and psychotherapists into the mix, creating a remarkable reserve of professional development opportunities for all members.
- Sixth, professional spiritual care is having a moment, one we did not anticipate when these conversations started. The pandemic has raised awareness of the essential services chaplains provide, the importance of spiritual care in private practices as well as congressional leadership, and the emerging places where spiritual care professionals are being called to serve in communities. The new organization will be better positioned to help support, encourage and innovate in these areas.
- Finally, it just makes sense. As a unified organization, we can take advantage of opportunities that currently are beyond the reach and scope of either organization independently. We are better, stronger, and more robust together.
3. What are the benefits of this merger?
We can serve the needs of members across their careers, from novices to seasoned experts, from front-line workers to senior administrators.
We expect to deepen collegial relationships between students, chaplains, clergy, counselors, psychotherapists, and CPE educators, fostering an appreciative culture committed to excellence in spiritual care.
We expect to build greater collegiality between professional spiritual care providers in a variety of settings.
We expect to seed new settings where spiritual care can flourish.
We expect to offer a broad range of research-based professional development opportunities, many in partnership with graduate learning institutions.
We expect to position the new organization as the leader and standard within the profession of spiritual care.
We expect to be the primary source for educators, media, administrators, and other associations about professional spiritual care.
We expect to serve much like an association management company for smaller and newer spiritual care organizations, providing them with professional services while also weaving them into the larger advocacy and professional development efforts of the new organization.
4. Who initiated this merger and which association will lead?
This proposed merger is envisioned as what organizational designers call a “merger of equals.” We are both healthy. We are both dominant forces in the field. We rely on one another at a variety of levels. The initial board structure is intended to capitalize on this “merger of equals,” assuring both groups have the same number of seats as we move towards greater integration of work, processes, and influence in the professions of spiritual care.
5. What are the financial conditions of both organizations?
A consultant affiliated with both associations conducted a comprehensive financial due diligence report of both associations. In short, both have steady, growing revenue streams, well-managed expenses, and several months of cash reserves. In other words, both organizations are financially healthy and can approach this process from a place of financial strength.
We also recognize that our members face increasing financial constraints with the loss of travel support, no support for dues, even reduced leave time. We believe the proposed merged entity can help provide more opportunities and support as well as advocacy for members that help advance the larger profession.
6. Why are CASC/ASCC, NACC and NAJC not merging with ACPE and APC?
CASC/ASCC is not prepared to move forward within the merger due to the priorities that are in motion for the up-coming years. Throughout merger discussion additional complexities were identified around provincial and federal governments, as well as the uniqueness of Canadian issues and bi-lingual culture. CASC/ACSS is firmly committed to this working relationship.
NACC leaders recognized that NACC needed to remain its own 501(3) organizational entity within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that founded NACC, under whose umbrella NACC keeps its nonprofit status, and from whom it receives approval of Certification competencies and procedures. Thus, this relationship remains essential to NACC. NACC remains committed to ways it can partner with ACPE and APC on initiatives, exploring ways to share services, along with continuing our work on and adherence to our common qualifications and competencies for board certified chaplains as well as to our Common Code for Professional Ethics.
Currently, NAJC is a member of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, which requires them to maintain a corporate structure specifically as a Jewish organization. Their partnership with the Network serves as a vital force for maintaining and supporting the goals of NAJC as a resource for Jewish chaplaincy as well as promoting their capacity to support all in need of Spiritual Care across all faith traditions in all areas where Chaplains have an impact. NAJC anticipates a strong ongoing relationship with the new organization, as it has enjoyed with ACPE and APC. NAJC looks forward to continuing partnering with ACPE and APC and engaging in many joint ventures to build, grow and advocate for chaplaincy.
7. What happens to the ACPE Foundation?
The ACPE Foundation will continue as a 501c3. While this has not been finalized, the ACPE team hopes all assets/reserves can be consolidated here, with appropriate subaccounts to recognize the origins and restrictions on funds. The current Type1 designation would need to be reassigned to the new organization.
8. When do the changes take effect?
Hopefully, the Merger Implementation Workgroup will have a final presentation for the members to consider by the end of the year. If both memberships approve the merger, it will likely take one to three years to fully implement all the changes.
9. What is the name of the new organization?
The Implementation Workgroup will propose on a new name, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and governance, after research discussion, and gathering member feedback.
10. Which executive(s) will lead the combined organization?
The Implementation Workgroup will draft requirements for hiring the executive leadership of the new organization. If the both memberships approve the merger, the new organization will conduct a national executive search.
11. Where will the new organization be based?
If the both memberships approve the merger, the Implementation Workgroup will present recommendations for a base of operations.
12. When will we vote?
The implementation workgroup will draft the bylaws, a governance structure, membership categories, and staffing requirements. Throughout their process, the implementation workgroup will maximize opportunities for member engagement and feedback. Before any final vote on the merger, the implementation workgroup will provide members of both organizations with a complete package of the new organization's bylaws and governance so you will have a full picture of the proposed new organization. Depending on the speed of the implementation workgroup's work, members could vote as early as December 2021.
13. If I hold membership in both associations, am I able to vote on each association’s ballot?
If you hold membership in both associations, you are entitled to vote in each association’s ballot.
14. If ACPE and APC merge, will I still need to pay “double” dues?
This will be one of the first tasks of the implementation workgroup: to determine membership categories and pricing. One key hope is that membership categories are such that individuals are not paying multiple fees to multiple groups but will have a clear and simple annual dues structure.
15. If ACPE and APC merge, are they creating a monopoly?
No, as mentioned in question two, there are 19 different organizations offering something called CPE or CPT, and at least 28 other organizations that “certify” chaplains.
16. How will this impact the Certification Process of ACPE and APC?
ACPE Accreditation and Certification would function much as they do now as commissions, though under the common 501c3 as a “subsidiary” or “division” of the new organization. ACPE will be the name of the “division” or “subsidiary” that houses Accreditation and Educator Certification. It will maintain the current ACPE 501c3 identity to prevent disruption with the US Department of Education, CMS, and other major partners.
The Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc. (BCCI) will continue to operate as a 501c6 affiliate of the new organization, as it does currently for APC. A 501c6 is required by the tax code for certification. It will have a commission and board of directors (currently the same as the APC board) as required by law. It will house chaplain certification.
Similarly, ACPE’s Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy program and certification would continue to operate as its own “subsidiary” or “division.”
17. If ACPE and APC merge, are they creating a conflict of interest because one organization will provide the required education and BCCI certification?
No, as mentioned in question 16, the certification processes will be maintained as separate “subsidiaries” or “divisions.”
18. How can I get more information?
ACPE and APC published a series of interviews with past and current leaders. ACPE leaders are also happy to join CoP and other group gatherings for further discussion. Finally, you can also email ACPE at ACPE-APCmerger@acpe.edu or APC at President@Professionalchaplains.org.
Additional FAQs about the ACPE-APC Proposed Merger
1. What is the structure of new organization going to look like?
The new organization will leverage the combined assets and leadership to serve the diverse needs of each legacy organizations’ members as well as other individuals who will be drawn to join in the future.
- The merged organization will serve as a central entity to which other professional spiritual care organizations can join to amplify the impact of the profession.
- The new association will have all the structures needed to operate independently: a board of directors, staff, operations, and programs and services to support the new organization’s mission.
2. What is the leadership going to be in the new organization?
In August, ACPE will hold an election to elect our representatives to a Merger Implementation Workgroup. Eight ACPE representatives will work with eight APC members to draft the bylaws, a governance structure, membership categories, and staffing requirements of a consolidated organization. Throughout their process, the implementation workgroup will engage members to elicit their feedback on the proposed design. At the completion of their work, the implementation workgroup will provide members of both organizations with a complete package of the new organization's bylaws and governance, so the members will have a full picture of the merged organization before they vote.
3. What is the name of the new organization?
The Merger Implementation Workgroup will propose a new name for the organization.
4. Why are ACPE and APC considering a merger?
- The primary desired outcome is to prepare the spiritual care profession for the future.
- The merged organization will be better equipped to advocate the value of professional spiritual care providers to aspiring spiritual caregivers of all faith traditions, institutions, and the public.
- The combined organization will be positioned to adapt to changing demographic and societal trends.
5. How will the different cultures of the organizations and their staff be combined?
- ACPE and APC are committed to keeping staff and creating growth opportunities within the new structure.
- The new organization’s staff will be organized to support the association’s mission.
- Functions will likely include infrastructure operations, communications, external relations, member engagement, ethics\research, and education and professional formations.
- The initial board of the new organization will conduct a national CEO search.
6. What are the practical implications of the merger to individual members?
Current members of ACPE and APC will have their memberships transferred to the new organization. Independent commissions will continue to manage the new organization’s programs so individuals should experience little change regarding their certification or accreditation. Practically, individual members will benefit from the merged organization’s ability to provide robust advocacy and market clarity.
7. Will I have to pay more in dues?
This will be one of the first tasks of the new board: to determine membership categories and pricing. One key hope is that membership categories are such that individuals are not paying multiple fees to multiple groups but will have a clear and simple annual dues structure.
8. What is the Mission, Vision and Values of the new organization?
The Merger Implementation Workgroup will draft a new mission, vision, and value statements for member consideration.
9. Will the new organization be flexible enough to ensure additional faiths and specialized groups can participate in mutually beneficial ways?
Both ACPE and APC are committed to diversity and inclusion. We expect to deepen collegial relationships between students, chaplains, clergy, counselors, psychotherapists, and CPE educators, fostering an appreciative culture committed to excellence in spiritual care.
10. How will the new organization innovate and expand the mission/focus outside of healthcare?
We expect to position the new organization as the leader and standard within the profession of spiritual care. As a merged organization, we also expect to build greater collegiality between professional spiritual care providers in a variety of settings.
11. Will the new organization only take one unit of non-ACPE CPE?
Yes, at this time, the Board of Chaplaincy Certification (BCCi) will continue to only allow one unit of non-ACPE CPE to be submitted via an equivalency for approval.