By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — George Pickle, an innovative and formative leader of CBF’s chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries, passed away June 22 at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Ga., following injuries sustained in a fall at his home the previous week.
In June 2013, Pickle retired after 12 years of service as CBF’s endorser of chaplains and pastoral counselors. He joined the CBF staff in 2001 after serving as the endorser for hospital, hospice and pastoral counseling at the North American Mission Board. Prior to becoming an endorser, Pickle spent seven years as a chaplain at the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, California.
Under Pickle’s leadership, CBF more than doubled its number of endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors, created a structure for the Council on Endorsement and secured a space for the chair of the council on the CBF Coordinating Council. A respected voice in the chaplaincy and pastoral care community, Pickle was an active member in numerous professional organizations, including the Council on Ministry in Specialized Settings (COMISS Network). In 2003, he was the third recipient of the COMISS Network Medal, preceded only by Erik Erikson and Henri Nouwen.
A graduate of Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, University of California, Los Angeles, and Fuller Theological Seminary, Pickle held extensive clinical training in both grief and chemical dependency counseling.
Gerry Hutchinson, CBF endorser for chaplains and pastoral Counselors, remembered Pickle as an exceptionally experienced leader with strong relationships and a passion for people.
“When George came to CBF in 2001 as the first full-time Endorser it immediately catapulted the chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministry to another level,” Hutchinson said. “George brought years of endorsing experience to the job. He was a known leader and had strong relationships with cognate groups in professional chaplaincy that provided immediate credibility for CBF.
“George enjoyed meeting people and was an engaging raconteur who always had a story to tell,” Hutchinson said. “A large number of chaplains began to seek endorsement through CBF and the endorsed personnel count grew significantly during George’s tenure. He loved to call and talk with chaplains and counselors. Whenever he called you heard him say the first syllables of your name, you knew who it was and you settled back for a good conversation. George lived a good life, cared deeply for others and served well.”
In 2016, Pickle was honored with the prestigious Distinguished Service Award by the Association of Professional Chaplains, a national association of more than 5,000 chaplains. His colleagues offered glowing endorsements of his tireless ministry in recommending him for the award and described him as a friend and as “the Chaplain’s Chaplain” and emphasized the personal impact Pickle had on their lives and the lives of countless others.
“Because of George’s decades of work, hundreds of chaplains and professional counselors have found their place in those professions—and the world is a much better place,” said David Plummer, endorsing executive of The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.
Pickle’s impact on the chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministries is immeasurable, his colleagues also noted in 2016.
“Chaplain Pickle helped to create a space for chaplains in the newly forming Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” said Rachel Hunt Hill, chair of the CBF Council on Endorsement. “This Fellowship is my ministry and my theological home, and Chaplain Pickle has helped to connect hundreds of chaplains to this endorsing body, thus allowing and enabling us to continue in the chaplain profession.”
Details regarding funeral arrangements are pending and will be provided here when available.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.