General CBF

Spiritual Care Week 2021: Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

By Renée Owen

Since 1985, the Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings (“COMISS”) has observed the last week of October as Spiritual Care Week – a time when we celebrate the sacred work of chaplains and pastoral counselors. Spiritual Care Week gives us the opportunity to recognize and uplift our CBF-Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors and pray for the ministry they provide in specialized settings, often beyond the setting of our local congregations. This year’s Spiritual Care Week theme is “Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research.”

As Chaplains and pastoral counselors, we often define our ministry as a “ministry of presence.” 

Many of the specialized settings where chaplains and pastoral counselors serve are “data-driven” and rely on “evidence based” practices, especially in the arena of healthcare. With the growing need to provide empirical evidence directly related to the provision of spiritual, religious, and emotional care, now more than ever, chaplains and pastoral counselors are required to delve into the area of research.

Historically, we have shared the value chaplaincy and pastoral counseling ministry through narratives – emphasizing the relational aspect of pastoral care. As specialized settings continue to assess the most critical services to offer, often directly related to reduced funding, we must equip our chaplains and pastoral counselors to define their roles by providing them with a working framework. 

Research becomes the framework and the catalyst to make the subjective objective, the invisible visible, the intangible tangible. It fosters appreciation and legitimacy from other care providers and professionals who are less familiar with the role of chaplaincy work and calls for chaplains and pastoral counselors to partner with them to establish evidence-based research. Identifying measurable goals, gathering and analyzing data related to spiritual care interventions, and tracking outcomes to demonstrate the impact of these interventions provides chaplains and pastoral counselors the platform to reinforce the efficacy of chaplaincy and pastoral counseling and creates the leverage and advocacy toward sustaining the provision of this sacred ministry in specialized settings.

Since 1998, CBF has endorsed more than 1,200 chaplains and pastoral counselors to serve in specialized settings, with 838 currently active in ministries around the United States and throughout our world including hospitals, hospices, long-term care facilities and retirement communities; all branches of the United States Armed Forces, the National Guard, and the Civil Air Patrol; the Department of Veterans Affairs; correctional institutions; police, fire, and rescue departments; colleges and universities; businesses and industries; counseling centers, private counseling practices, church staffs, and other community based settings.

As we move into the next chapter of CBF’s Chaplaincy & Pastoral Counseling Ministries, we are excited to partner with our endorsees to equip, prepare, and empower them to continue and sustain their ministry, an extension of our missional work as a Fellowship, to embody the love of God and hope through Christ, as we work together to renew our world.

We invite you to take a moment this week to celebrate, thank, and pray for our CBF-Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors that they will be refilled, refreshed, and renewed as they continue to live out their calling to enter into holy moments and sacred spaces with persons in need.

To learn more about the work of CBF Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, please visit our webpage at

You can support the work of our CBF Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministries with gifts to the George Pickle Fund and Chaplaincy Assistance Fund.

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