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Reflections from the Pittsburgh Pastoral Care Conference

Date: June 4, 2018

By Rachel Kornfield Becker

On Friday 5/11/2018 I had the privilege of being part of a truly exceptional event: the Pittsburgh Pastoral Care Conference (PPCC).  Thankfully it happens annually so if you missed this one you can go next year!  Save the date for Friday, May 10, 2019.  More information can be found on the web as it becomes available: http://www.asmuhl.com/pghpc/. 

The PPCC gathers clergy, human service professionals and lay people for a day of thinking and learning about how we can better serve the needs of our constituents in areas such as addiction, mental health and family tensions.  This year’s keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, drew our attention to the ways political divides too frequently stratify our churches and families and how we can reach out to build bridges.   

The Rev. Dr. Moore-Koikoi passionately and eloquently expressed our need for each other: liberals need conservatives and conservatives need liberals.  Brain scans indicate that Democrats tend to have a brain more open and curious about what’s new whereas Republicans tend to be solidly rooted in the tried and true.  As a result, sometimes Democrats get excited about every new thing without recognizing the need for stability or truly testing the merits of a novel idea whereas Republicans can fail to accept a change that is truly needed.  In short, if we are to progress in a way that is both sustainable and adaptable we need each other.  We’d be lost without each other. 

How often do you hear that political message? 

The day continued with workshops on topics such as the opioid epidemic, stigma, marriages under stress, working with youth at risk, responding to the threat of violence in the church, understanding our mental health treatment options and systems, serving refugees and immigrants, hoarding, and the basics of addiction and recovery.  As usual, I had trouble deciding which three workshops to go to in the midst of a wealth of worthwhile options.  More impressive still, all the workshop speakers are volunteers, there because they have a message sufficiently worthwhile to share that they’re willing to do it even without being paid.  I was grateful to be part of this unique conglomeration of people across the spectrum of viewpoints politically, religiously and socially coming together to help make the church what it really should be: a place that serves those in need. 

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