Thursday, November 29, 2012

When a low profile means a legacy

Tonight we marked 20 years of Clinical Pastoral Education at Reading Hospital -- a program founded by the man who trained me to be a CPE supervisor, the Rev. Gregory Stoddard. People who know  Greg well think of him as a quiet, but highly influential and respected leader, someone who has done much to shape CPE as we know it through his leadership at the national level and through the many students he has trained, some of whom, like me, are now full supervisors in the ACPE. Many others work as chaplains and bring the wisdom they have learned from Greg into their work every day. Quite a few of them came to the commemoration.

Some might think Greg is quiet because that is just somehow his nature. But, as was clear from his words tonight, it is actually something quite intentional. So often religions and educational institutions are founded and maintained on the charisma and the force of personality of one person. While there may be strengths to this approach, if a program is about one person it won't survive, Greg believes. And so Greg has always worked hard -- including at this commemoration -- to make sure it was not all about him. It's part of his commitment to help make sure that the things that he cares about can last, and that other people can find ways to function on their own without needing to be directed at all times by an over-involved leader.

It's a Torah I take with me wherever I go and that I seek to share with my own students. I think we are all enriched by it.

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