By David Lichter
This Vision issue is dedicated to our NACC 2014 National Conference that was held May 17-20, 2014, at Union Station in St. Louis, MO. I appreciate all those who contributed articles to this issue, particularly to David Lewellen, our Vision editor, who since returning to the job this past January after six years away was able to attend the conference this year, and capture first-hand many of the speakers, workshops, and member conversations. It was so good to see David involved again with our members.
Since I became Executive Director of the NACC in August 2007, each NACC national conference has been a remarkable experience. Usually nine months prior I begin to wonder, “Will we have a quality product?” “Will we be ready?” “Will members come?” “Will it go well?” I am always amazed by the Spirit working within and among the Conference Planning Task Force and our staff in the weeks ahead of time. Each year that group forms a small community of care for one another and for our members. They are so committed to represent member needs and to serve our members! I am again deeply grateful to Bob Barnes, the 2014 Conference Chair, and the 2014 Conference Planning Task Force for their exemplary preparation, their generosity of service throughout the year leading up to and during the conference.
Several participants approached me during the conference and said things such as, “This is the best conference I have attended!” or “This one is really special!” For most, it does not come down to one speaker or workshop, a particular liturgy or workshop, but the overall feel and spirit of the conference. You know as well as I do that the essential ingredient of “special” is the gift of our members to one another, their entering disposition and readiness and hunger for spirituality, colleagueship, and community. When we gather for God’s word, and speak the motivation of our ministry to one another, i.e. continuing the healing ministry in the name of the Church, we are reunited and re-ignited in God’s Spirit.
I must confess that when the 2014 task force first met to identify a theme, I was so focused on the changing face of health care – and so concerned that we not be bystanders to but proactive pioneers in shaping the future of spiritual care, and that our speakers and presenters address this reality – that I failed to remember the renewal nature of the conference. So when one member reminded me and the others that to be renewed in commitment was an important reason members come, it was not just,oh, yes, that too, but oooh, yes, that is most important! So that objective moved to the front: From a renewed spirit – we will explore the ways we connect with and refresh our bodies, minds, and spirits for the work we do, including self-care, support and collaboration with each other, and prayer.
No doubt the attendees gained many insights, took home new resources, and found new networking colleagues. However, being recommitted to this vital yet challenging ministry was essential. I saw it again and again in the faces of the participants! I am sure they all brought it home to their colleagues also. I know I am very deeply and personally grateful for this gift from the attendees – their gift to me of renewal. I continue to feel blessed by the NACC and this ministry.
At the business meeting, Fr. Jack Crabb, the NACC Board liaison to the Conference Planning Task Force, announced that Ms. Beverly Beltramo, D.Min, BCC, has accepted the invitation to chair the 2015 Conference Planning Task Force. We are delighted that Beverly said “Yes”! She brings creativity, passion, and a collaborative spirit. She embodies the 2014 Conference theme, “Compassionate Leadership.”
This will be a historic conference as the NACC celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015! Many conference attendees approached Bev after this announcement to offer their assistance. Please make sure you mark your calendar for Friday, March 6, through Monday, March 9, 2015 for the NACC 50th Anniversary Conference in Arlington, VA, at the Hyatt Crystal City. Stay tuned for more details!
In the coming months we will have both a 50th Anniversary Task Force that will explore ways of celebrating the event, and a 2015 Conference Planning Task Force that will stay focused on the conference itself. Please keep in prayer in the coming months the work of these two task forces.