As God's chosen!
By the Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, BCC

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

-- Colossians 3:12-17

Happy New Year, beloved colleagues in ministry! It is with the joy that comes from the Holy One that I greet you.

For we know that the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Colossae filled with theological, doctrinal and practical ethical mandates. As we enter a new year, let us, as chaplains, pastoral counselors, spiritual directors and other specialized ministers, remember what it means to be among God's chosen.

It is for certain, as I write to all of you today, that I am asking us to consider the 880,000 of our sisters and brothers affected by the government shutdown. Consider also our brothers and sisters held at the border as well as those held in detention centers, including the many children separated from their parents. 

Let us consider persons suffering across the nation. Let us consider those who are grieving at the hand of senseless gun violence. Let us consider our brothers and sisters affected by the California wildfires as well as those continuing to await post-hurricane assistance in Texas, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, Florida and other places in America. 

In so many ways, we are facing a national state of emergency.

I entreat all of us to continue to exemplify and disciple. Let us continue to be persons who can live out compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience toward all humankind, including the least of these. And let us cultivate those same qualities in those to whom we provide spiritual care.

Beloved, let us remain engaged as a community of action that is faithful to the One who has called us out of the ordinary realm of human existence into the realm of eternal life. 

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   

Let's do it all with joy, as we embrace a new life in Christ in 2019!

Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy

The Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy is ecclesiastical endorser and national coordinator of American Baptist Home Mission Societies' (ABHMS) Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries.

If you have not submitted your annual report for calendar year 2018, you are late! Your endorsement is in jeopardy of being out of good standing!   

Your 2018 annual report was due on Jan. 1, 2019, for calendar year 2018. Please submit it today!   

All Military Chaplains: If you have not submitted your annual report, your name will not be submitted to the DOD! Submit your annual report today!   

To submit your annual report, visit the website at > Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries > Submit Annual Report.

If you are retired, update your contact information (address, telephone and email) by sending your information to

All Veterans Administration (VA) Chaplains: Please make sure to update your form if you are planning to apply for a transfer or a new position within the VA 
in 2019.

If you need a letter of endorsement for your employer, send an email message to

Be sure to specify the name and full address of your employer.

Again, if your annual report for 2018 has not been submitted to date, your endorsement is in jeopardy. Submit it today!

Connect with us, each other on ministrElife

Our last e-newsletter announced the launch of "MinistrElife," a vibrant online community developed by ABHMS for American Baptist ministry professionals and lay leaders. MinistrElife is awesome! 

You may have received a letter from American Baptist Personnel Services (ABPS), informing you to update your profile. ABHMS Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries encourages you to take advantage of the opportunity to update your information. Simply use your own desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone to visit and register with the email address that you submitted when you completed your ABPS profile.

If you have any questions or comments about ministrElife, please contact ABHMS Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries.

Stay tuned for exciting chaplaincy, pastoral counseling and other specialized ministries news on MinistrElife in 2019! We look forward to seeing you soon on ministrElife!

Understanding moral injury 
By Donald C. Verner, M.Div., BCC, CDR

At Sheridan (Wyo.) Veterans Administration (VA) Healthcare System--the tertiary mental health care site for Veterans Integrated Service Network 19--the approach to moral injury and moral-injury reconciliation is based, in part, on that of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas.

The Soul Repair Center maintains that moral injury occurs when a soldier must make a combat decision that opposes his or her moral convictions.

Moral injury is described as "perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations. This may entail participating in or witnessing inhumane or cruel actions, failing to prevent the immoral acts of others, as well as engaging in subtle acts or experiencing reactions that, upon reflection, transgress a moral code" (Brett Litz, et al. "Moral Injury and Moral Repair in War Veterans: A Preliminary Model and Intervention Strategy."Clinical Psychology Review 29, no. 8 [2009]: 695-706).

Pastors, certified clinical counselors and chaplains in specialized ministry settings--military, correctional, college campuses, hospitals and nursing homes--are on the "front lines" to observe and interact with individuals suffering from moral injury. Knowing the signs and symptoms of moral injury and where to refer can be can be pivotal to the improved mental health, spiritual growth and overall well-being of those seeking help.

Tips Regarding Moral Injury
  • Become acquainted with a local or regional VA hospital or community-based outpatient clinic.
  • Develop relationships with the hospital's or clinic's chaplain and mental health services so that referrals can be made.
  • Read and educate yourself regarding moral injury:
    - Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School;
    The Shay Moral Injury Center, Volunteers of America; and
    National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

A board-certified clinical chaplain, Donald C. Verner serves at Sheridan VA Healthcare System. A retired member of the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, he served as a Navy chaplain for almost 30 years. He has been a member of the Ecclesiastical Endorsement Committee. 

Chaplain celebration
The Rev. Debra L. McClurkin has been endorsed as a Healthcare Chaplain. Congratulations, Rev. McClurkin!
In addition to telling us about celebrations and promotions, please remember to inform us of any changes to your mailing address, email and telephone numbers so that we can update our database and keep information coming to you in a timely manner. Send an email to

We value your opinion
We would like to hear your thoughts on the following:
  • What types of plenaries and workshops would you like to experience?
  • Would you be willing attend events that are not directly related to chaplaincy, pastoral counseling and specialized ministry?
  • How far are you willing to travel for a two- or three-day event?
  • Are you open to exploring new and innovative ideas outside of your current ministry context? If yes, please provide an example.
  • How do you see your ministry connecting within the American Baptist family?
  • Are you interested in meeting other individuals in your region with ministry interests similar to your own?
Please send your responses to the attention of Dr. Murphy at

Save the date for these events in 2019:
Feb. 18-21
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Birmingham, Ala.

Feb. 24-26
National Association of College and University Chaplains and Association for College and University Religious Affairs Annual Conference, Albuquerque, N.M.
March 24-27
The 29th Plenary of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, San Antonio, Texas
May 2-4
ABHMS Aligned Action Network Gathering and Create! collaborative event, William Jewel College, Liberty, Mo.
May 8-10
ACPE Annual Conference, Scottsdale, Ariz.
May 20-22
Caring for the Human Spirit Annual Conference, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
June 20-23
APC Annual Conference, Orlando, Fla.
June 21-23
American Baptist Churches USA Biennial Mission Summit, Virginia Beach, Va.
Sept. 19-21
ABHMS Aligned Action Network Gathering, Cleveland, Ohio
Oct. 21-27
Pastoral Care/Spiritual Care Week; Theme: "Hospitality: Cultivating Time"
Please consider attending your regional meeting in 2019. For more information on regional events, please contact your regional executive minister.

American Baptist Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries

Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray
Executive Director/CEO, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)

Rev. Dr. Patricia Murphy, BCC
Ecclesiastical Endorser and ABHMS National Coordinator 
of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries
Alice Mitchell-Cross, MBA
Coordinator,  Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries, ABHMS
Rev. Dr. Delois Brown-Daniels, BCC
Chairperson, Endorsement Committee
Rev. Elizabeth Ritzman, LCPC
President, Ministers Council, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors Chapter

American Baptist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministries
American Baptist Home Mission Societies