CPE celebrates 20 years: Carilion Clinic chaplain Lisa Meyer Vineyard

The Clinical Pastoral Education program at Eastern Mennonite Seminary celebrates its 20th anniversary this academic year. Since 1999, 290 people have been trained through the seminary’s program. They serve and minister in a variety of contexts and many states, carrying their CPE practice learnings with them wherever they work. 

We’ve invited a series of guest writers to share about how CPE training has shaped their life and ministry. Join us at a celebration during the January 2020 School for Leadership Training. To learn more, visit https://emu.edu/seminary/cpe/anniversary

Lisa Meyer Vineyard offers reflections below. Also enjoy posts by our guest authors Anne Kauffman Weaver, Melanie K. Lewis and Shawn Gerber.

Photo courtesy of Carilion Clinic

After serving as a Carilion Clinic staff chaplain for 20 years, I took my third and fourth units of CPE at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. I completed the Advanced Leadership seminar in May 2019. Participating in these EMS classes gave me a place to reflect upon my work and life in new ways. 

Kenton and Penny created a safe place to do family systems thinking and practical reflection. I explored my family patterns of interacting with others such as my issues of over-functioning, perusing others and feeling as if I had to fix other people’s problems while learning with some amazing classmates. Penny, Kenton and my classmates invited me to become a more thoughtful chaplain and person. They encouraged me to develop my curiosity and breathing techniques in order to be more present with my patients, the staff, family and friends. I was surprised at how anxiety producing CPE was. Reflecting upon my life in new ways caused me great anxiety at times. I am grateful for the growth that resulted.

As I began working on my own family patterns of interaction through generations, I saw how I brought these patterns to my daily life at work, church and home. I spent more hours than I would ever like to admit reflecting upon how I work with others and how I wanted them to act in a certain way. When they did not change, I realized I had to change. This was not easy but through the classroom work, readings, writing, verbatims, presentations and supervision, I had a safe place to explore myself and my behaviors. CPE, for me, was an experience of grace and encouragement. 

I loved coming to class because I was challenged to grow and become a better person. — not by being beaten over the head but encouraged to look deep within to find the beauty and grace of God within. I didn’t have to be 100% better, just 2%. I could manage 2%.

One of the beautiful gifts of CPE is that I have a better relationship with my siblings. As the third child, I left my home town when I was 20. I have struggled to reconnect with my brother and sister for years. CPE helped me to have the courage to reach out on a consistent basis. When I really wanted to judge my brother’s behaviors, I had a place to look at my own reactions and then be more present with him. I was able to listen, be curious and supportive as he struggled and eventually found happiness in life. I could be with my brother, support him in his life and not need to fix him. He was fine.

I found that I listened and engaged my sister who chose a very different path than me. I would call, giving her space to vent about her life as a mom and business woman. Now she reaches out to talk about her life as well as listens to mine. We have even set up a group text, a small action but a positive changechang to how we communicate and share about real-life experiences. As my parents age, we are becoming a unit to help them in the ways each of us can. It is a wonderful, unexpected gift that CPE gave me. 

In conclusion, participating in CPE and the Advancing My Leadership Seminar at EMS gave me the opportunity to do my own family system work, opening me to my family patterns and the capacity to change how I interact with others and self.  For this, I am grateful.

The Rev. Lisa Meyer Vineyard was born and raised in southern Illinois as the third child of Wendell and Elizabeth Meyer. She grew up in Belleville where she loved to participate in her local church community and ride her bike across town or along cornfields in the country.  

She graduated from the local community college and then went onto Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to earn a BA in sociology and women’s studies.  After college, she spent three years as a head resident and campus ministry associate at Earlham College, a Quaker college in Richmond, Indiana.  

She graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1992. During seminary, she spent almost a year in Botswana as a theological education student. She was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1995. After seminary she took several ministerial positions in UCC churches in Illinois and Omaha, Nebraska.

When she came to Roanoke in 1996, Lisa worked part-time as a hospital chaplain at Carilion Clinic and part-time as the director for the Pastoral Counseling Center for three years. Since January 2000, she has served full-time as a chaplain working with people living with HIV/AID, oncology, palliative care and heart patients and their families.  After completing her final two units of CPE at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 2018, Lisa became a Board Certified Chaplain. Lisa became a Reiki Master in 2016 and now teaches Reiki I and II through Carilion Chaplaincy Services.

Lisa enjoys sharing with others, listening to stories of their life, quilting, biking, reading and being with her beloved husband, Frank Vineyard. They met at a dog park and now have three retrievers they enjoy caring for and taking walks with as often as possible. 

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