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
Guest blogger Anne Kaufman Weaver MDiv ’16 has been employed as a chaplain at Landis Homes since March 2016.
Most CPE training centers occur within hospitals during an intense yearlong residency. That model did not suit my schedule or priorities. I wanted to develop my chaplaincy practice in a setting where I could cultivate longer term relationships. I completed four units of CPE at Landis Homes Retirement Community in Lititz, Pennsylvania, one extended unit at time. This slower approach allowed me to deepen my practice and strengthen relationships with residents, families, and staff. It also allowed me to take seminary courses at the same time as a unit of CPE.
The books, movies, Bowen Family Systems conferences in Washington D.C., process reflections, verbatims, Clearness Committee and papers each contributed greatly to my stash of information and formation. During my final unit of CPE, I became an employee in the Pastoral Services Department at Landis Homes. It felt like a win-win situation as we knew each other well after several years of interning.
During each unit of CPE, I developed personal goals. I delved into Family Systems Theory within my own nuclear and extended families. Genogram mapping and story gathering opened my eyes to patterns and the impact of events. I took more initiative to connect with family members in healthier ways. I particularly learned to pay attention to who I am as a person and deliberately care for my own needs. I also developed goals related to my work among older adults. I received training through the International End of Life Doula Association that shaped the way I walk alongside people who are dying. Assisting residents and families to find meaning and connection in the final months and weeks of life is gratifying and healing.
I continue to integrate what I learned in CPE into my chaplaincy practice at Landis Homes. I pay attention to dynamics such as “Triangles” when I hear a staff person voice a concern. How can I temporarily support this person so that she can go directly to her co-worker? I look for the “Togetherness-Individualness” continuum in the family as a loved one is dying. In what way can I encourage them to come to a healthy place of letting go or being present? I monitor whether I am over-functioning or under-functioning when a resident adjusts to a higher level of care. What resources does this person and his/her family contain to adjust to the new surrounding?
I dream of EMS providing extended CPE units for pastors, lay leaders and seminary students in their own local contexts. Not all interested individuals can move to Virginia for seminary or CPE. With advances in technology and networks of community-based services, I hope that anyone who wants to take a unit of CPE while engaged in current responsibilities will be able to do so. I am profoundly grateful for Kenton Derstine’s supervision as well as everything that I learned from my fellow students.
Anne Kaufman Weaver, a chaplain at Landis Homes, completed her Master of Divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in May 2016. She also has a Master of Social Work degree from Marywood University. Anne was ordained in 2017 by Atlantic Coast Conference. Previously she obtained life coach training through International Coach Federation and enjoyed her practice, Coaching Connection, from 2006-2016. She served on the boards of Bridge of Hope BuxMont, Lancaster Mennonite School and Eastern Mennonite University.