Spiritual Care Provider Networks

Sponsored by the Fetzer Institute

The Fetzer Institute has supported the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab’s efforts to support and build networks of and for chaplains of color. Resources here begin to describe the history of chaplains of colors and provide resources for current chaplains and for educators training future chaplains.

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If you are a spiritual care provider of color looking for support (individual or collective), please see our list of resources here. Those affiliated with ACPE may be interested in the Racial Ethnic and Multicultural Network, convened by Rev. Johnny Bush of Westchester Medical Center.

Special Issue of Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy

This special issue of the Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy gathers scholars, educators, and practitioners of spiritual care to discuss the history and experiences of chaplains of color. Article authors have contributed from a number of disciplinary perspectives. Abstracts of each article, as well as links to article full texts (login required), are provided.

Working Paper

This paper describes the work of Black chaplains historically and in the present. Today, chaplains primarily support the spiritual discernment and mental and emotional health of the institutions they serve. 

  • Recipients of spiritual care who identify as Black are overrepresented in prisons and in some branches of the military. Available evidence suggests that Black chaplains might be underrepresented in these central settings.
  • We also know that African Americans, on average, are more religious/spiritual than other groups in the U.S.
  • In newspapers and interviews, examples abound of black chaplains’ devotion to spiritual care entwined with political struggle against the racial realities of the institutions in which they served.  This was true in the 19th and 20th centuries, and, although in different ways, in the 21st century as well. 

Starting at the gallows and fields of war, the presence, and actions of black chaplains parallel, converge, and diverge from patterns laid out in the normalizing studies of white chaplains. As we begin to document these realities, we lay out a preliminary research agenda and conclude with suggested actions for individuals and institutions to name, address and respond to historically grounded racial inequities in the work of Black chaplains.

Online Reader

Black American Chaplains: An Online Reader documents the historical and current work of Black chaplains. The reader provides resources for chaplains, students, and educators interested in examining the interplay between race and the history of chaplaincy in the United States. These resources range from historical newspaper documentation illustrating the accomplishments of chaplains, profiles of Black chaplains of the past and present, and current books written by and about chaplains surrounding spiritual care in the present day.

Lecture Series

October 26, 2021
Conversation Circles as a Model to Support Chaplains of Color
(Recording available here)

  • Su Yon Pak (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Kirstin Boswell (Elon University)

November 18, 2021
History, Present, and Future of Chaplains of Color
(Recording available here)

  • Aja Antoine (University of California at Berkeley)
  • Wendy Cadge (Brandeis University)
  • Barbara Savage (University of Pennsylvania)

December 16, 2021
Experiences from Chaplains of Color in the Field
(Recording available here)

  • Tahara Akmal (MedStar Washington Hospital Center)
  • Charles Lattimore Howard (University of Pennsylvania)
Chaplains of Color Lecture 1
Chaplains of color lecture 2
Lecture series chaplains of color Featured image #3 (200 x 200 px)

Conversation Circles

From January to June 2021, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and the Fetzer Institute convened groups of 8-10 chaplains who met on Zoom two to four times with two co-leaders who are professional chaplains of color. During the first six months of 2021, we received over 200 registrations; 135 chaplains participated in 16 groups.

An eBook about this model was launched during our October 26, 2021 lecture series kickoff and is available here. The manager of this project’s initial phase, Aja Antoine, blogged about the development of the conversation circles model at Fetzer.org in February, May, and August 2021.

This program continued into 2022. Details, including facilitator teams and meeting times as well as registration information, are available here.

Feature image of Conversation Circles page early 2022
Download the eBook here

If you want more information or would like to be involved with Spiritual Care Provider Networks, contact Michael Skaggs at mskaggs@brandeis.edu.