“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” — Helen Keller
By Beth Lenegan
In July, chaplains from across the country will gather in Anaheim, CA, with the realization that we cannot do our ministry alone. Two associations will come together to look toward the future as professionals who value the diversity of our members and patients and who continue to discover new research and resources. This gathering happens in the framework of prayer, hospitality, and fun. This year’s conference committee identified the main theme as Partners in Shaping the Future with four underlying topics that will be explored by our plenary speakers: collaboration, supporting diversity, research, and professionalism.
On Thursday, July 12, Dawn Gross will begin our conference speaking on the art of collaboration. Together, working with one another, as well as with those in our places of ministry, we can be truly present for those individuals in our care. We are chaplains in community, not in isolation. Dr. Gross holds a combined MD and PhD from Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, where she was trained as both physician and scientist. She is currently a hospice and palliative care physician in California, host of a call-in radio program, Dying to Talk on KALW 91.7, and is a speaker, writer and educator. Dr. Gross will begin our time together by reminding us of the importance of joining in partnership for the welfare of many.
On Friday, July 13, we will be reminded of the importance of supporting diversity with our second plenary speaker, James Mason. We are called to accept and appreciate people of all races, creeds, and cultures. Each of us will be challenged to how open we are with colleagues and those we minister to. Dr. Mason is the chief diversity officer for Providence Health & Services in Oregon. He is the former director of the Office of Multicultural Health for the State of Oregon and one of the founders of the National Association of State Offices of Minority Health. Dr. Mason will lead us to think beyond the traditional meaning of diversity.
Steve Nolan will be the third plenary speaker on Saturday, July 14. He will explore the current research in the area of chaplaincy, spirituality and healthcare. One area of his research is the concept of hope. The Rev. Dr. Nolan is a chaplain at Princess Alice Hospice and a visiting research fellow at the University of Winchester, England. He has been described as an “appealing presenter, integrating lived experience of chaplaincy with solid research in such a way that participants at all levels of skill and competency could understand and relate.”
As we prepare to go home, we are sent forth in recognition that we are professionals with integrity. It is with the gifts of compassion and integrity that we are professional leaders in diverse areas of chaplaincy. On Sunday, July 15, Adrienne Boissy will speak to our current and future role as professionals. Dr. Boissy serves as Cleveland Clinic’s chief experience officer and previously led its Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication. She is a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis and has a secondary appointment in bioethics. She attended Boston University and worked in neurobiological research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She completed her medical training at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and finished her neurology residency and neuroimmunology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.
Each of these speakers will unite the community of chaplains gathered in Anaheim and in their unique way challenge us to remain partners as we move into the future.
Beth Lenegan, BCC, is plenary chair of the 2018 conference and director of pastoral care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.