Spring Education Day 2020

“Crossing the Threshold:  Equipping Professional Chaplains in End-of-Life Care”

Facilitated by J. Dana Trent

J. Dana Trent

The NCCA will gather for a Spring Education Day on April 30, 2020 at Dogwood on Lake Norman, located at 7062 Camp Dogwood Drive in Sherrills Ford, North Carolina.  We will enjoy three sessions with Dana, resulting in 4.5 hours of Continuing Education.  This event is a one-day event (our longer event in 2020 will be in the Fall).  There will be opportunities for participants to gather the evening prior to our education day to participate in peer review committees (you will need to form the groups, but we are happy to get you started), work on certification materials with peers (again, we are just helping you find each other), NCCA Exchange offerings, or fellowship/ relax on beautiful Lake Norman.

Centered on her recently released book, Dana Trent, will be offering a special time of reflecting on how those in the professional practice of spiritual care provide meaning to the journey toward end of life to patients and families in their practice.  But more importantly, we will look at how we also provide meaning and care to our own soul in the process.  All registered attendees will receive a copy of Dana’s book, Dessert First.


Wednesday, April 29th

2:00pm      Executive Board Meeting

4:00pm      Lodging Check-In Begins

6:00pm      Dinner at Dogwood for Overnight Guests

7:00pm      Evening Activities:  BCC Peer Review Groups (self-directed)

                  The Exchange—“Chaplain-Sourcing”

Have a really great resource to share?  Done an event that was truly meaningful?  Come bring your notes, photos, and ideas to display so other chaplains can benefit from your experience.  *Be sure to bring multiple copies of your information for folks to take back with them!

8:00pm      Registration and Dessert Social (all attendees welcome)

Thursday, April 30th

8:00am      Breakfast at Dogwood for Overnight Guests

8:30am      Registration

9:00am      Welcome and Introduction of the Speaker

9:15am      Session A:  “Sabbath for the Chaplain: Refilling the Well in Order to Hold Space”

10:30am    Break

10:45am    Session B: “Dessert First: Practices & Spiritual Care for the Dying and Bereaved”

12:00pm    Lunch at Dogwood for All Attendees and Their Guests

1:00pm      NCCA Business Session and Election of New Officers

1:30pm      Session C: “One Breath at a Time: A Chaplain’s Guide to Meditation”

2:45pm      Q & A with the Author

3:15pm      Closing Remarks

Dogwood Conference Center on Lake Norman

A Glimpse at our Day…

Session 1:  Sabbath for the Chaplain: Refilling the Well in Order to Hold Space

Chaplaincy can be exhausting.  How does the professional chaplain sustain their professional expertise and energy amid growing needs?  This session will provide practical wisdom on how a regular practice of sabbath rest, worship, and community has the power to refill and shape us—and sustain our ongoing professional care for others.  We will dive into a brief history of spirituality as well as examine the practical when, why, and how of achieving balance and renewal amid a 24-7 society.

Session 2:  Dessert First: Practices and Spiritual Care for the Dying and Bereaved

What do the dying and bereaved really need?  This workshop will focus on equipping chaplains for end-of-life care and grief support for patients and families.  It will provide an explanatory didactic on needs as well as practical tools for serving faithfully amid what many scholars deem the upcoming “Silver Tsunami” of aging Americans entering the final state of life.

Session 3: One Breath at a Time: A Chaplain’s Guide to Meditation

As professionals dedicated to serving with understanding, love, and empathy, we need reminders of what roots and nourishes us in the why of our service.  In this session we will enjoy refreshing reminders about our own contemplative spiritual practices and why they are essential to sustaining and shaping our continued care for patients and families.

Meet Dana…

Photo credit: @imageisfound

Dana Trent is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and professor of World Religions and Critical Thinking at Wake Tech Community College. An ordained Baptist minister and former hospital chaplain (University of North Carolina Hospital, Chapel Hill), her work has appeared on Time.com, and in Religion News Service, Sojourners, Religion Dispatches, and The Christian Century. Publishers Weekly calls her fourth book, Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life “poignant,” “hilarious,” “practical.” She is also the award-winning author of One Breath At a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation, For Sabbath’s Sake: Embracing Your Need for Rest, Worship, and Community and Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk. Dana winds down from writing and teaching with episodes of “The Young and the Restless” as well as leading group fitness training classes for the YMCA.

About Dessert First…

What if we embraced death as a sweet part of life, rather than a dreaded landmark? How would that shape the way we think about death, dying and grief … and how we live, now?    

In the year she served as a chaplain in a hospital “death ward,” J. Dana Trent accompanied more than 200 people — and their families — on their passage from life to death. Using personal narratives, Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life captures life lessons on death and grief learned at the bedsides of the dying, including Dana’s own mother. Dessert First illuminates the end-of-life complexities: why we avoid talking about and planning for it, and how we might instead prepare for a “good death.” 

Dessert First is a deeply personal, touching, and sometimes even humorous look at death and dying, including the ways we cope when facing the inevitable end of life. Vignettes examine meaning, while practical resources help the reader begin with the end in mind. Final chapters include religious, spiritual, and legal resources.

This book is a companion on a journey of considering death—our own and our loved ones’—as a sweet spiritual part of life, rather than a dreaded destination. Discover tools for creating meaning-making at the end of life and in grief—for yourself and for those whom you love.

Hear what those who have read the book are saying…

“In this disarmingly forthright and often funny book, Dana Trent reminds her readers that we’re all terminal, and we’ll all ride the grief train sooner or later—so why not start the conversation now?  Her ability to convey what she has learned as a hospital chaplain, a daughter, and a teacher grounds every page in the real world, making it impossible to resist her invitation to begin thinking about The End in a life-giving way. –Barbara Brown Taylor, Author of An Altar in the World

“If grief is the language of love, this unflinching book shows us how to love a little deeper.” –Kate Bowler, New York Times Best-Selling Author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved)

“Dessert First really helped me.  It helped me prepare for the deaths of people I love.  It helped me prepare for my own death.  Don’t worry: it isn’t a book written by Miss Morbidity.  J. Dana Trent is funny and professional and human, exactly the kind of person you want to help you face life’s one actual certainty.”  –Brian D. McLaren, Author/ Activist

“Dessert First is a delicious treat—nourishing and enjoyable.  A timely reminder not to neglect the things that matter most.  Practical, truthful, needed.” –Philip Gulley, Quaker Author of If the Church Were Christian

“There is great freedom in accepting the reality of death.  There is even joy.  And possibly—a great deal of humor.  It is all here in “Dessert First,” a book about death that adds up to the fullness of life implied by the title.  Dig in.”     Erin Wathen, Author of Resist and Persist: Faith and the Fight for Equality and Patheos Blog ‘Irreverin’

Go to jdanatrent.com to access free resources or to learn more about Dana’s published works and blog.

Chaplains enjoying Lake Norman at a Previous Event

The Details

  • Registration is open through Friday, April 3, 2020.
  • We have Member, Non-Member, and Student Rates.
  • We welcome commuters and overnight guests.
  • Overnight guests receive lodging and dinner on Wednesday, April 29, 2020; breakfast, lunch, the day of education, and a copy of Dessert First. There are opportunities for fellowship, finding folks for peer review or certification circles, or further education after dinner on Wednesday.  Please indicate your choices in registration.
  • Commuters receive the day of education, lunch, and a copy of Dessert First. If commuters wish to participate in the exchange, peer review or certification circles, or fellowship on Wednesday, they are encouraged to indicate their choices in registration.
  • Overnight guests need to know the name of their roommate at the time of registration in order to get the shared room rate (that rate is per person).
  • Overnight guests provide their own toiletries and personal items.
  • Attendees may elect to bring their own guest. Because we are at a non-profit conference center, we are charged per person per room rather than per room as in a motel.  Guests are expected to dine at the facility and are charged accordingly.
  • Late or cancelled registrations will incur a fee.
  • All payment must be received by April 10, 2020 to secure one’s seat. Registrants who have not paid by that time forfeit their place.

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NCCA Fall Meeting

October 2-3, 2019

Caraway Conference Center, Sophia, NC

The fall meeting began with a Board Certification Training by Hadley Kifner, APC/BCCI Area 6 Certification Chair.    Also happening was a fellowship that included refreshments, board and card games.  Some burned the midnight oil in an exciting card game; Some went to bed.

This well attended meeting began with a time of greeting, a devotional, and a welcoming activity.  It was an opportunity to get to know someone new. 

The seminar, Crisis Response Training:  Helping Clergy Respond More Effectively & Compassionately to Survivor-Victims of Trauma, was presented by Chaplain Glenn Davis, Director, First Responder Chaplaincy Program, FaithHealth, Wake Forest Baptist Health.  Continuing Education credits for 4.5 hours were presented for participation in this event.

Chaplain Glenn Davis leads the Fall Education Day

Session 1:  Overview of Trauma and Critical Incident Stress

First responder chaplains help people working in fire, EMS, and law enforcement agencies deal with a variety of health-related challenges.  They have a front row seat at what a life of poor self-care, neglect and stress can do to a person’s physical and mental health and overall quality of life for individuals and their families.  First responder chaplains respond to critical incidents, staff support, education/consultation to churches, workplaces and communities, and community engagement with multiple agencies, organizations, and faith communities.  Their stress can be psychosocial or intrapersonal and delayed or cumulative.  

Chaplain Davis presented the signs of stress for first responders, the dangers and systemic effects of chronic stress, and factors contributing to poor health and shorter lifespans.  These factors include inadequate support systems, negative public perceptions, media scrutiny and toxic work environment lacking in empathy are all strong contributors. 

A Critical Incident was defined as an incident perceived or believed to threaten or potentially threaten the safety of an individual which may induce psychological and/or physical responses or seriously impair life functioning and/or work performance.  These events are sudden, unexpected, disrupt one’s sense of control, makes ordinary means of coping inadequate, restrict normal functioning, the perception of a life-damaging threat, and may be physical and/or emotional loss.  Perception of the event is important.  

The trauma can be life-altering. New trauma can resurrect old trauma. Fundamental values can be negatively impacted.  Reactions can be immediate or delayed.   

Session 2:  Unique Features of Sudden/Traumatic Death (part 1)

Common reactions to trauma include physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual reactions. 

Physical distress reactions are fatigue/exhaustion, nausea/indigestion, vomiting, muscle spasms, chest pain, hyperventilation, elevated BP, tachycardia/bradycardia, thirst, grinding of teeth, weakness, dizziness, psychogenic sweating, chills, fainting, headaches and visual difficulties.

Cognitive distress reactions are blaming, confusion, poor attention/concentration, poor abstract thinking, heightened or lowered alertness, difficulty identifying familiar objects or people, disorientation, nightmares, confusion, sensory distortion, guilt, preoccupation, and inability to understand consequence of behavior.

Emotional distress reactions are anxiety, guilt, grief, denial, mood swings, post-traumatic stress, phobias, fear, uncertainty, loss of emotional control, depression, apprehension, feeling overwhelmed, anger, irritability and agitation.

Behavioral distress reactions present as change in normal activities, change in speech patterns, withdrawal/family discord, excessive eating, hyper-startle reflex, emotional outbursts, antisocial acts, suspiciousness, crying spells, 1000-yard stare, hyper-vigilance, loss or increase of appetite, alcohol or other drug abuse, inability to rest, nonspecific bodily complaints, impulsiveness – risk taking, pacing, erratic movements, sexual dysfunction, compensatory sexuality, sleep disturbance.

Spiritual distress reactions are major changes in one’s assumptive world, perplexing questions about faith & life’s meaning, questioning or doubting God, anger at God or His “representative”, devoutness of faith where none previously existed, existential confusion, soul-searching, difficulty putting the event into context, hopelessness, and withdrawal from faith-based community.

Risks for caregivers and First Responders are rapid role shifts (role assumed one moment can change with one encounter, phone call, text, etc.).  Helping others requires proximity to their suffering.  Over-management of emotions can leave the First Responder numb.  Too little processing time can put them at risk.

Session 3:  Unique Features of Sudden/Traumatic Death (part 2)

Survivor reactions separate them from life.  They experience feeling lost and not knowing what to do, feeling suspended from life, inability to concentrate, indifference to immediate needs, disbelief that the deceased is really dead, feeling that life can never be worth living again, and difficulty managing other ongoing life needs.  The reaction can be more complicated by the suddenness of the death.

In a death notification the chaplain creates a lifelong memory.  It has an immense impact on how the bereaved remember their loss.  Survivors who report being treated compassionately experience less complicated grief.

Session 4:  Re-Victimization & Spiritual Dimension in Crisis Response

There are two fundamental considerations when trying to help:  (1) recognize the need to restore power and control; (2) the helper must prevent self and others from making the crisis worse by inflicting more wounds on those already hurting and vulnerable.  Potential sources of re-victimization are family, friends/colleagues at work, media, law enforcement, the notifier(s), hospital staff, insurance companies, funeral homes, and clergy and faith communities.  

The role of faith in crisis can be the source of strength and comfort, a supportive community, a source of meaning and purpose and provide an answer to eternal questions.   When a person’s faith provides answers to problems, then it is perceived as an asset to cope with the crisis.  Sometimes it is the key sustaining resource.  

When a person’s faith does not provide adequate answers, then it becomes part of the crisis.  The symptoms are feeling abandoned by God, finding it hard to pray, no spirit of thankfulness, hopelessness; joylessness, seeing no value in Scripture, social alienation, resentment that life is business as usual for others, sense of unfairness, life seems futile and symptoms are very pronounced in cases of violent crime.

What people in crisis need:  safety and security, ventilation and validation, prediction and preparation. 

What not to say:

I know how you feel; I understand.

He’s better off; He’s in a better place & happier now.

She led a good, full life.

At least you’re alive or you are lucky to be alive, etc.

God never gives us more than we can stand.

It’s God’s will.

God needed an angel.

He/she has….gone to sleep, passed, expired, left us, etc.

Don’t cry, everything is going to be ok.

You’re so strong; you’re such an inspiration!

Just think of the others you will be able to help!

You shouldn’t feel that way; you should be over it by now.

You must get on with your life.

Time heals all wounds.

You need to go on vacation, etc.

You just need to meet someone!

What to say to survivor-victims following death or major trauma

I’m sorry it happened.

I cannot know (or understand) what you’re feeling but I care.

This must be awful for you.

Will you let me help you? 

You are safe now.  (If this is true.)

How are you doing now?

It’s ok to cry.  (Timing is important; saying this prematurely can shutdown emotions.)

It’s normal to be angry.

You must have loved ______ so much.  (Mention the loved one’s name.)

Tell me about _______.  (This can be an opportunity to share history and invite trust; encourages story-telling.)

He/she meant so much to me.  (If you knew the deceased and have been personally impacted by the death.

It wasn’t your fault.  (If you know this to be true.)

Your reactions are normal; the event is abnormal.  

You are not going crazy. (Many survivors fear the loss of control.)

It’s ok to not have to talk.  (Be an advocate if others try to make survivors talk.)

It will never be the same, but you can get better.  (An affirmative response to survivor’s anxiety about the future.)

I’m willing to be with you through this.  (Intense fears of abandonment & exploitation are common with many survivors.)

I’m praying for you.  (Infuses hope and raises awareness of other spiritual resources)

“Let’s stay in contact.”  (When your physical presence is no longer needed, when other support has arrived.)

Chaplain David concluded his excellent seminar with the definition of wellness.  Wellness is a positive approach to life incorporating physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual aspects with the potential to improve quality of life and result in increased health, happiness, and productivity.”

The day concluded with an opportunity to remember those who have passed.  This Memorial Service was focused on helping us lay aside our losses and remember to be thankful for our gifts. 

The next North Carolina Chaplains’ Association Spring Education Day will be on April 30, 2020 at Camp Dogwood, Sherrills Ford, NC.  Dana Trent will present “End of Life Care as Professional Chaplains”.  Dana will reflect on how those in the professional practice of spiritual care provide meaning to the journey toward end of life to patients and families.  Each attendee will receive a copy of her recently released book, Desserts First:  Preparing for Death While Savoring Life.  

Overnight options for those wishing to participate in ‘The Exchange’ Small Group offerings and other fellowship opportunities will be available on the website:  www.ncchaplains.com.

Registration will be open in December 2019.  

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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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2018 Fall Education Summary

The meeting convened at Camp Caraway, Sophia, North Carolina on November 8, 2018.  The meeting was rescheduled from October due to hurricane damage and threats.  For attendees who arrived early, there was an excellent dinner, fire pit, games, and refreshments.  It was an evening of fellowship and relaxation.  Pictured at left, NCCA member, Rona Watson shows her mad Operation skills while David Long observes.

Vice President-Elect, Rebekah Ramsey, opened the meeting with a ceremony representing the release of those tensions participants brought, recognizing that many were affected by the recent hurricane.  Rocks were picked up to represent our tensions.  They were placed in a jug of water to represent burying tensions that could keep us from being fully present in the meeting.

Our speaker, Chaplain Stephen B. Roberts, BCC, is a Past President of the Neshama Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) and served on the board for almost a decade.  Responding to the 9/11 terror attacks, he was the first Spiritual Care Officer overseeing the provision of Spiritual Care through national ARC’s SAIR team in New York City and then helped oversee the program as the Senior Volunteer from December 2001-May 2002.  Rabbi Roberts is a Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Disaster Chaplaincy Services.

Chaplain Roberts’ publications include: “Compassion Fatigue Among Chaplains, Clergy, and Other Respondents After September 11th” [Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease; November 2003] and Jewish Pastoral Care in Wake of a Disaster [Book Chapter—Jewish Pastoral Care—A Practical Handbook].

Over the last decade, Rabbi Roberts has worked very closely with the leadership of the Association of Professional Chaplains, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, American Association of Pastoral Counselors, Canadian Association for Spiritual Care, and other groups on a variety of critical chaplaincy leadership projects including helping create The Spiritual Care Collaborative; co-overseeing and co-guiding the process leading to the Common Standards for Professional Chaplaincy, Common Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Pastoral Educators and Students; participating in the approval of The White Paper. Rabbi Stephen B. Roberts presently serves as leader of the Temple of the High Country, Boone, NC.  He also functions as an Adjunct Chaplain with Watauga Valley Medical Center.

Session I:  Interactive Learning on Trauma and Professional Caregiving

Chaplain Roberts shared the key principles of Disaster Spiritual Care.  He based his training on his experiences and the experiences of others he has known who have experienced traumatic events.  He shared that most people do find a new balance without outside help.  The role of the spiritual care provider in a disaster is not to shelter victims, but to help them draw upon their own spiritual, religious, and emotional resources in the midst of their pain.  Their goal is to provide sensitive spiritual and emotional care to affected individuals and families by respecting a person’s culture, religious tradition, and faith commitments.

Session II:  Chaplain Roberts’ Reflections on Undergoing Personal Trauma


Chaplain Robert’s shared his personal experience with 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.  He spoke of the “Heroic,” “Honeymoon” (community cohesion), “Disillusionment” (coming to terms), and “Reconstruction” (a new beginning) phases of personal trauma.



Business Session

Between Session II and III, the NCCA conducted a membership meeting.  Rebekah Ramsey was nominated to serve as Vice President.  No second needed since the recommendation came from the Nominating Committee.  She was unanimously approved to serve.

It was reported that the NCCA now has co-chairs with the intention of working together for a year and then one chair rolling off to maintain continuity.  A bio of the Co-Chairs and Officers of the NCCA can be found on the website.

Sara Stratton and TeresaMarie Vilagos presented information on the Journal Club available to NCCA members.  It meets every other month on the 2ndMonday of the month.  To join, please email admincoordinator@ncchaplains.com.  Your email will be forwarded to Sara and Terri so that you will be added to a meeting planner.

The club is looking for articles to present and people to present those articles. There is a template form for discussion. The goal of the group is to better understand research and gain comfort in research.  The group also meets the research CEU requirement for the APC.  In January, several research articles will be sent out for people to choose one they would like to present for discussion.

Session III:  The Use of Self in Professional Trauma Care—Integration Seminar

Chaplain Roberts shared the following insights.

  • In our lives there is commonly a difference between “bad/traumatic” periods and times and “challenging” periods and times. The group considered “bad” traumatic periods vs. “challenging” times and shared examples of these times with another person.
  • We may “relearn” different spiritual/ emotional lessons during our “bad” times and our “challenging” times. The group shared lessons learned from both situations.
  • We often use different spiritual tools during “bad” and “challenging” periods in our lives—of which we are often unaware.   Reading uplifting books including Scripture, cursing or feeling you have been cursed, spending time with friends and family, spiritual numbness, prayer and journaling. The group was challenged to identify the tools we used during our “bad” and “challenging” trauma.
  • We often use different prayers and prayer formats during “traumatic/ bad” periods in our lives of which we are often unaware unless pointed out to us.
  • After each period, upon reflection, we often learned something significant and new.Our job as spiritual leaders are to help those with whom we are working to move to this point of reflection.


Chaplain Roberts gave us this excerpt from Disaster Spiritual Care, 2ndEd.:  Practical Clergy Responses to Community, Regional and National Tragedy, edited by Rabbi Stephen B. Roberts and Rev. Willard W.C. Ashley, Sr., published by SkyLight Paths Publishing.

Disaster Spiritual Care Wisdom Sayings:

  • No one who “witnesses” a disaster is untouched by it.
  • Self-Care—Practice self-care and seek the support of others.
  • Basics—Meet the basic needs (food, water, shelter, and medical).
  • Diversity—Recognize the unknown god in diversity, spiritual care should be uniquely tailored to community or individual.
  • Connections—Healing happens within human relationships.
  • I and Thou—Ministry of presence, listening, struggle with victims as they ask questions.
  • Practical Tools—Spiritual assessment tool, “How are you doing?” Ritual is an effective means of healing.

Chaplain Roberts also shared an article, Disaster Spiritual Care, developed by the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Points of Consensus which was written to inform, encourage, and affirm those who respond to disasters.

Evaluations of the conference were sent to attendees for whom email addresses were available, using survey monkey.  If you wish to receive the evaluation survey and did not, please contact Wanda, admincoordinator@ncchaplains.com.

The NCCA looks forward to our Spring Conference, April 2-4, 2019 at the Trinity Center in Pine Knolls Shores, NC.  We will focus on Ethics in the Healthcare System and how it impacts our work as professional chaplains.  Deb Love, Sr. Director of Bioethics, Spiritual Care, and Healing Arts with Novant Health, will lead our discussion.  Greg Robins, PA, with Palliative Care, will also aid in our understanding of the ethical implications around the end of life.  Look for an announcement of open registration by email.

Chaplains from New Hanover Regional Medical Center were all smiles at Fall Education Day.


Announcements Posted at the Fall Meeting

  • Chaplain Rebekah Ramsey announced approval from Novant Health Leadership to move forward to seek Pre-Accreditation status with ACPE to start a CPE Residency Program in the Fall of 2019 at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.Contact: Ramsey@novanthealth.org
  • Suzanne Franklin-Kent from Cone Health-Alamance Regional Medical Center announced that they have four open residency positions beginning in mid-January 2019. They are currently interviewing for these positions.  Contact:  Suzanne.franklin@conehealth.com
  • New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced that they are alive and well after the storms.David Long reports that they have a 3-year vision to continue CPE with first and second year residents. Contact:  long@nhrmc.org
  • There is an immediate opening for a Hospice Chaplain at Community Home Care and Hospice in Clayton, NC. It is a 24-hour a week job.  Details can be found on Indeed.com.  Contact: philliphare1@gmail.com

Category: Education, Events · Tags:

Register For Fall Conference (new date), November 7-8, 2018


Due to Hurricane Michael’s visit to NC, registration for our new Fall Education date is open for Fall Conference 2018 at Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, NC!

Click here to proceed to the conference registration page.

Click here for a downloadable flyer of the event to print, post or share.


The conference facilitator is Chaplain Stephen B Roberts, BCC, Past President of the Neshama Association of Jewish Chaplains with service on the Board for almost a decade.  Responding to the 9/11 terror attacks, he was the first Spiritual Care Officer overseeing the provision of Spiritual Care through national American Red Cross’s Spiritual Care Aviation Incident Response Team in New York City and then helped oversee the program as the Senior Volunteer from December 2001-May 2002.  Rabbi Roberts is a Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Disaster Chaplaincy Services.

Over the last decade, Rabbi Roberts has worked very closely with the leadership of the Association of Professional Chaplains, National Association of Catholic Chaplains, the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, American Association of Pastoral Counselors, Canadian Association for Spiritual Care, and other groups on a variety of critical chaplaincy leadership projects.  Rabbi Roberts was part of  helping to create The Spiritual Care Collaborative; co-overseeing and co-guiding the process leading to the Common Standards for Professional Chaplaincy, Common Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Pastoral Educators and Students; and participating in the approval of The White Paper.

Rabbi Roberts presently serves as leader of the Temple of the High Country, Boone, NC.  He also functions as an Adjunct Chaplain with Watauga Valley Medical Center.


Conference Schedule

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

7:00 pm – Pre-Conference Fellowship Event

Join your NCCA friends for board/card games and refreshments


Thursday, November 8, 2018

8:00 am – Registration Opens

8:45 am – Greetings, Welcome, Spiritual Reflection

9:00 am – Session I: Interactive Learning on Trauma and Professional Caregiving

10:45 am – Session II: Chaplain Roberts’ Reflections on Undergoing Personal Trauma

12:00 pm – Lunch

12:45 pm – NCCA Business Meeting

1:00 pm – Session III:The Use of Self in Professional Trauma Care Integration Seminar

2:30 pm – Evaluation and Wrap Up


A total of 4.25 contact hours will be offered.  Registrations accepted through September 28.  Late or cancelled registrations will incur a fee.  Please note that NCCA conferences are held at retreat centers, so please be prepared to bring along necessary toiletries or personal items.


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