NCCA 2018 Spring Conference In Review

The Spring Conference of the North Carolina Chaplain’s Association (NCCA) was held on Lake Norman at Camp Dogwood, Sherrills Ford, NC on Wednesday, May 2 to Friday May 4, 2018.  It was great to see so many friends and to have a chance to catch up with what is going on in their lives.

The meeting began Wednesday evening with a pre-conference session by Melanie Childers on navigating the board certification process.  This was an opportunity for more support and guidance for those working on their certification.  The alternative was a pre-conference fellowship with refreshments and board games.  Chaplain Bob Riley reported that he enjoyed this unstructured time for fellowship with friends and the opportunity to create new relationships.

The conference began on Thursday with a centering time presented by Chaplain Anita Harvin of Gaston Hospice.  This was followed by three sessions on Keeping Pace with the Changing Culture.  The presenter Ralph (R.J.) Gore, Jr. D.Min, Ph.D. is a retired Army  Chaplain, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a Professor of Systematic Theology and Ministry at Erskine Theological Seminary and Dean at Trinity College and Erskine Seminary.

Session 1:  Theology and Culture in Dialogue (Traditionalist and Progressive)

Session 2:  Millennials, Mega-Change, and the Final Generation

Session 3:  Ethics:  Immanent or Transcendent

On Friday morning, Chaplain Gore presented a very thought provoking case study.  We were challenged to see how what we learned could be applied.  This resulted in a rich discussion by the group with many expressing their own opinions and feelings.  Consequently, this carried over into a post conference executive meeting where we were discussed the need to create a safe place for discussion for all NCCA members who come from many different backgrounds.

The business meeting was held between sessions on Thursday with President Cynthia Vaughan presiding.

  • Minutes for the previous meeting were read and approved
  • The new Executive Committee structure with co-chairs for each position was presented
  • Updates to the By-Law were approved by Melanie Childers
  • The continuation of the NCCA Journal Club was announced by Sara Stratton and Terri Vilagos, Co-Chairs. The Journal Club meets bi-monthly by Skype or phone.
  • The nomination procedure was explained by President Cynthia Vaughan. Empty positions were detailed (Vice President, Co-chairs of Recruitment and Advocacy).  Those interested were asked to contact Cynthia Vaughan or Greg McClain
  • Chaplain Janice Wakefield was nominated and approved as an Emeritus Member
  • The 2018 budget was reviewed and approved
  • Greg McClain was introduced as President for the next two years.

The Awards Banquet on Thursday night was a highlight of the conference.  Attendees enjoyed the ambiance of beautifully decorated tables in the dining room.  Each centerpiece reminded us of our “higher calling”.  Chaplain Walt Windley (Hospice and Palliative Care, Charlotte Region) led the group in a trivia game that encouraged teams to work together for answers.  Congratulations to Cynthia Vaughan who retired from New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington in 2017.  Congratulations to Janice Wakefield, retired from High Point Regional Medical Center, who was honored as an Emeritus Member of the NCCA.

During the meeting the Communications Committee offered a survey to assess the best method of connecting with our membership.  For the members present almost 100% use email daily so it seems to indicate that is the preferred method.  Other members of the NCCA will be surveyed by another method in the near future.

The conference ended on Friday with a Memorial Service.  Each person lit a candle in memory of family, friends and colleagues who have died.  It was a cathartic time for many and hopefully this facilitated healing.

Thanks to all who worked to make this meeting special and to those who participated.

We look forward to seeing you at Fall Education Day on October 11, 2018 at Camp Caraway where Chaplain Stephen Roberts will be our speaker.  He is focusing on crisis response in both large emergencies and in community crisis. He will include elements of PTSD effects and personal coping as a chaplain who deals with “taking in” the grief and pain of others.


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