By Joan Bumpus
Didn’t you just cringe when you heard the older generation say, “I remember when we…” But now I have been a certified chaplain with the NACC since 1978. Your math is correct — 37 years! I have loved being a certified member of this awesome association. I’ll never forget my first national conference and seeing Sr. Rosemary Abramovich leading the way. I was awed that we had a female leader at the podium. I remember hoping that someday I would have the chance to serve/lead the NACC in the same way that she was. Of course, I didn’t know what any of that meant way back then.
I remember being part of the assembly at our national conventions when we were struggling with whether we should require two units of CPE for certification instead of just one. Look where we are now, requiring four units of CPE and a master’s degree.
One of the most memorable national conventions for me was the Symposium on the Sacrament of the Sick. Joe Driscoll, our then-executive director, was instrumental in making that happen. Regional conferences were also a highlight of my year. They were such uplifting and spiritual gatherings with some fabulous speakers. Our region had some wonderful role models and leaders such as Art Metello, the Rev. Dick Tessmer, and many others. Somewhere in this 37-year journey I was asked to put my name on the ballot for regional director. I agreed, but lost to Joan Clarke, another great leader in our profession. Just a short time after the election, Joan fell ill, and I was asked to step in and take her place. I gladly accepted, and thus started my journey of serving on the Board of Directors of the NACC for 12 years, including two as president and chair.
I couldn’t even begin to name all the wonderful colleagues I had the pleasure of serving with, but we went through some significant changes during those years. We were then set up in a regional structure, and our members kept complaining that the NACC was not meeting their expectations or needs. The Board took a deep dive into how the NACC was spending its money. While it was all being spent appropriately, we noticed that the funds were being used to support the overall structure of the organization rather than the mission of the NACC. We presented the finding to our NACC members, and they agreed that we needed to tear down our existing structure and rebuild something that supported the mission of the NACC and its members.
Another significant event was forming the Spiritual Care Collaborative with the APC, CAPPE/ACPEP, ACPE, AAPC and NAJC. Several of us from each organization were asked to create a model that would merge these associations together yet maintain our individual identities. No one thought we could accomplish this, but we did. I remember a historic meeting when all of our boards met together and we presented the model. The board members stood and gave us a huge round of applause and congratulations. The daunting task of presenting the model to the membership of all of our organizations was now before us. I guess we were way ahead of our time — our memberships were not ready to consider merging. But there was readiness out of that work to form the Spiritual Care Collaborative.
I believe this also paved the way for our associations to define a set of common standards for certification. That was tough work, but we knew it would serve the profession of chaplaincy in the long run. It was a sight to behold when our collective boards agreed to adopt the standards by which we would certify chaplains.
It indeed was a great joy for me to work with so many wonderful colleagues from the NACC as well as from the other associations. It was also a great joy to work with the dedicated staff at the NACC. You could see and feel their passion for the organization and its members. I count my time of service to the NACC as a great blessing for me.
We have indeed come a long way!
Joan Bumpus, BCC, is vice president of mission and ministry at Providence Hospital in Columbia, SC, and was chair of the Board of Directors from 2004 to 2006.