May 26, 2007
Dear Fellow Chaplains,
As you may remember, on the 25th of April I left for the USA to attend the Conference of the American Association of Professional Chaplains, which was held in San Francisco. After this Conference, I traveled to London at the invitation of the Church of England - The Hospital Chaplaincies Council (HCC) and the Multi-faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy (MFGHC) – to speak about the Network and to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury. I returned to home base on the 6th of May.
The Conference of the APC was very interesting. It was very nice meeting up again with Mrs. Jo Schrader, the Executive Director of the APC, who had come to Lisbon last year. Her joy was most obvious every time she introduced the ENHCC. I was also honoured to meet Rev. Mary Whetstone, President of the APC, whose warm reception and openness gave me a feeling that we had been friends long before. I was also welcomed by the head of the Advocacy Committee, Rev. Dick Cathell, who chaired the meeting during which I made my presentation. A special joint session of the Executive Committee and the Advocacy Committee was held where I presented the ENHCC to their members. From the discussion and feedback I have received, it seems that they were very impressed with our Network.
Meeting with International Advocacy Committee
In general the APC Conference gave me the opportunity to personally see how the APC is organized, how it operates and to compare their organization with ours, first hand. My general feeling is that we in Europe have strengths that were highly regarded by the American group. Our strong national ties give us a sense of solidarity and coherence, together with a sense of fellowship and community. Our strong faith-centred framework helps us in our focus, while our individual cultural boundaries help us to be more aware and sensitive to the diversity which characterizes Europe as a whole.
Now that the APC crossed the bridge we built with the Lisbon Consultation and the bridge over to San Francisco, both organizations have realized the importance of working closer together. The International Advocacy Committee is open to collaboration. I have begun talking with Dick Cathell, its chairman, and George Burn about this. One of the topics we discussed is how accreditation of chaplains takes place and how we can find ways of acknowledging the accreditation of those who cross borders and serve as chaplains. Some discussion took place regarding educational support in developing chaplaincies. All of this is in the making. What is important is that the foundations have been set.
One of the contacts made in California was with Rev. Dr. Martha R. Jacobs, Managing Editor of Plain Views (an e-newsletter for chaplains and other spiritual care providers) that now has some 7000 subscribers. Anne Vandenhoeck of Belgium had first met her at a previous APC Conference and was asked to serve on the editorial board. Anne has written about the ENHCC in Plain Views. I promised Dr. Jacobs that we will try to get more involved in Plain Views and see how we can support it in finding new subscribers. Here, I would like to note that Derek Brown, the President of the Scottish Association of Chaplaincy, was also in San Francisco for the APC Conference. Derek has written a short note on his participation at the APC Conference in the recent issue of Plain Views.
After my six-day stay in the US, I left for London. Upon arrival, I literally went straight to Lambeth Palace with Rev. Edward Lewis, Executive Chief of Health Care Chaplaincy in England, to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. His Grace is one of the most renowned of all Church leaders and theologians. During our meeting, I conveyed the greetings of all the participants of the ENHCC and expressed thanks for the support he has given us over the years through the outstanding participation of the The Hospital Chaplaincies Council (HCC) and the Multi-faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy (MFGH ) in our Network. The Archbishop was very informed about chaplaincy and has followed the Network with great interest. In our discussion, we shared our concern about a type of spiritualism that is developing, which in many ways is contrary to a life centred on God and true faith, particularly in the area of health care. He encouraged us to continue growing and to develop chaplaincy in every way and he sincerely asked that I convey his prayers and blessings to all the participants of the ENHCC.
Archbishop Williams with Fr Stavros
Fr Jonathan Goodall, Fr Stavros, Rachbishop Williams and Fr Edward Lewis
Both before and after the meeting with His Grace the Archbishop, we were able to meet with The Revd Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Chaplain and Ecumenical Officer. Fr. Jonathon was very interested finding ways in how health care chaplaincy could be introduced in the general ecumenical dialogue between Churches and other Faiths.
The next day, I had the honour of meeting with the members of the The Hospital Chaplaincies Council (HCC) and the Multi-faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy (MFGHC ).
The make-up of the Council and Multi-faith Group made this an extremely interesting experience. During the meeting, I presented the ENHCC, followed by a discussion on chaplaincy in Europe. At the meeting were Debbie Hodge, representative of the Free-Church, and Chris Swift of the College of Chaplains (both representatives to the Network). The multi-faith diameter of the meeting showed that there is a great more we have to do in learning from one another and helping one another.
During the third day of my visit, I had the privilege of meeting with the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Alexander Nicoll. He, too, was most interested in the Network and we discussed how health care in England is shaping.
Father Stavros and Mrs Georgia Kofinas with the Lord Mayor of Westminster Cllr Alexander Nicoll
In closing, I would like to thank Rev. Edward Lewis. If it were not for his initiative to find the financial resources to cover a major part of the travelling expenses, the trip to the US and to London would not have been possible. Needless to say, the contacts made in England were due to the respect he holds in the Church of England and in the community at large. His foresight in planning all the events of my visit was superb, not to mention the gracious hospitality offered by him and his family throughout my stay. His leadership as Executive Chief of the HCC and MFGH and prudence as a member of the ENHCC Network Committee is a gift and an asset to us all.
With wishes that all of you are well, I remain
Rev. Dr. Stavros Kofinas
Coordinator of the European Network of Healthcare Chaplaincy
(Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate)
171 24 Nea Smyrni,