NCCA Spring Retreat 2019

NCCA Spring Retreat 2019

The Spring Retreat was held at Trinity Conference Center, Pine Knoll Shores, NC.  The weather varied from warm and beautiful to chilly and rainy but spirits were bright inside the Trinity Center.  The conference area was decorated to remind us of the beautiful coastal area where Trinity is located.  We were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the marsh during our first session and the beach was popular for yoga, walks and jogging.

The retreat began on Wednesday with a preconference Session I presented by Greg Robins, MS, PA-C.  Greg shared his experience as a Physician Assistant working with dementia patients.  Greg is a Physician Assistant with Novant Health Palliative Care who works as an inpatient consultant at Kernersville and Thomasville Medical Centers.  

Greg presented an article, Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer, demonstrating longer median survival for those receiving early palliative care. 

Following the educational session, we enjoyed an Ice Cream Social with much happy conversation and networking.  Games were available and there was a failed attempt to make a bonfire.  Many in the group enjoyed a time on the beach before or after the educational session.


Thursday began with Sunrise Yoga with Teresa Jackson at the beach pavilion followed by a great breakfast which included many healthy options. 

The educational session began with ice-breakers at each individual table.  Greg McClain, the NCCA President and Rebekah Ramsey, the NCCA Vice President were introduced.  They welcomed everyone to the meeting.  Our local hostess, Marie Hurst, welcomed us and told us the history of the area.  We discussed Ethics in Session II, led by Deborah Love, JD, MBA, MASenior Director of Bioethics, Spiritual Care and Humanities for Novant Health.  Deb also holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Social Medicine at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Deb presented the article, Ten Myths about Decision-Making Capacity, demonstrating myths in patients’ autonomous choices.  She reminded us that we have the ethical responsibility to understand the patients’ decision-making capacity and how it is assessed.   She presented the Glover Process for Ethical Decision-Making and several case studies demonstrating the principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice.

Chaplain Rona Watson

We then dismissed for a nice lunch where the participants grouped for lively conversation.  Some squeezed in a quick trip to the beach.  

Following lunch the North Carolina Chaplains’ Association business meetingwas held:

The meeting was called to order by Greg McClain, NCCA President.  The minutes from the 2018 Fall Session were approved.  The Finance Report was presented by Delbert Minner, treasurer.  Kathy Turner was elected as the new Treasurer.  

Changes to the Fall and Spring Meetings were shared by Education Chair, Colleen Danson.  The NCCA will move to longer events in the fall and a shorter event in the spring to take effect in 2020.  The Spring 2020 education event will be a one-day Education Day.  

Todd Higginson of the Recruitment Committee asked that members “nudge their colleagues to become a part of this group.”

Martha Brown shared the purpose of the Advocacy Committee: to promote and create opportunities for jobs for professional chaplains.  She mentioned Pastoral Care Week and asked members to post pictures of the sacred spaces in their places of work on our Facebook page.  www.facebook/northcarolinachaplainsassociation.

Terry Vilagos and Sara Stratton presented the opportunity for Journal Club participation.  They encouraged attendees to consider joining the Journal Club Exchange Group and the Skype meetings to earn research credits.

Chaplains Wanda Burton-Crutchfield and Elizabeth Stroop celebrate Elizabeth’s retirement.

Rebekah Ramsey recognized Retiring Chaplains:

  • Jackie Allen
  • Tony Biles
  • Becky Holmes
  • Jane Mitchell
  • Twyla Nelson
  • Elizabeth Stroop

In Other Business, Cynthia Vaughn, Past President, offered “you may be called to serve, please be open to say ‘yes’.  Be prayerful.”

The meeting was adjourned.

During Session III, Intersecting worlds of clinical ethics, spiritual care and palliative care, Greg Robins, MS, PA-C, Physician Assistant with Novant Health Palliative Care and Joanne L. S. Henley, M.Div., BCC, Novant Health, Director of Spiritual Care, and Deborah Love, JD, MBA, MA, Senior Director of Bioethics, Spiritual Care and Humanities for Novant Health reviewed the evolving role of clinical ethics in healthcare and recalled some notable cases.  They stressed the intersection of Ethics, Spiritual Care and Palliative Care.  They suggested that we “Listen Freshly” to capture the perspectives of all parties, demonstrate respect for all views, and exercise empathy.  The session contained case studies and a role play.  

The first session of “The Exchange” (educational offerings presented in breakout style) included the following offerings:

Creating an Ethics Committee– Deborah Love, JD, MBA, MA, the Senior Director of Bioethics, Spiritual Care and Humanities for Novant Health, taught the group about how to establish or revitalize the ethics committee within their organizations.

BCC Preparation– Rev. Chaplain Melanie Childers, BCC, LPCS, Director of Pastoral Care, Watauga Medical Center, presented resources and further information for those seeking board certification.

“Chaplainsourcing” – Elevating Staff Care in Your Setting– Chaplain Todd Higginson, Clinical Chaplain at UNC Johnson Health-Clayton, NC discussed making a priority of staff care within each facility.  The group explored creative ways to help leadership recognize the importance of building resilience in those who are caring for our patients.

Chaplains Bob Riley, Todd Higginson, and Greg McClain

The attendees enjoyed a free evening with a meal on their own.  Some traveled to Morehead City or Beaufort.  Reports were that the seafood and steaks were delicious, but the companionship was even better.  New friendships were kindled and old ones were renewed.  


On Friday, after enjoying Sunrise Yoga and a great breakfast, the second session of “The Exchange” occurred with the following offerings:

NCCA Journal Club– Terri Vilagos, M.Div.., BCC, Manager, Dept. of Spiritual Care & Education, Carolinas Rehabilitation – Charlotte and Sara Stratton, M.Div., BCC, Manager, Spiritual Care & Education, Atrium-Pineville, shared a research article and demonstrated the technique used to review and discuss during the Journal Club meeting every other month.  Terri and Sara stressed the benefits of using this activity to meet requirements for certification and for personal and professional growth.

Mindfulness, Relaxation & Centering– Teresa Jackson, our Yoga instructor, presented a session on techniques to use for mindfulness, relaxation and centering in our daily practice.

Communication with Hospital Leadership– David Long, Interim Spiritual Care Manager, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington, presented tips and techniques for communicating with leadership.  He used his own powerful experience in advocating for the presence of spiritual arts at New Hanover.   

Chaplain Joanne Henley, M.Div., BCC

Session IV – Hoping for a Miracle, was led by Greg Robins, MS, PA-C, Physician Assistant with Novant Health Palliative Care and Joanne L. S. Henley, M.Div., BCC, Novant Health, Director of Spiritual Care.  Greg and Joanne presented four specific recommendations for providing a balanced, non-argumentative response to families that expect a miracle to intervene:

  • Emphasize non-abandonment
  • Cite professional obligations
  • Reframe the meaning of a miracle
  • Suggest that if a miracle occurs, physician actions will not prevent it
NCCA Holy Communion

The retreat closed with a worship led by Brooks Johnson, M.Div., Clinical Chaplain, High Point Medical Center.  This service included a time of reflection and dedication with Holy Communion.  Through a sacred reading we focused on our retreat time.  The service concluded with a recognition and remembrance of those who have passed recently.

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