From the Director's Desk

The blog of the Executive Director of the Oates Institute

Butterfly-01sWhat do stories of struggle, hard to get along with folks, longevity, past and future and spiritual care have to do with one another? It's all happening at the Oates Institute in August and we hope you will join us. We DO have something new, the opportunity for a live discussion with the board and director of Oates Institute. For now, the discussion is limited to current members (a reminder to many of you that you may want to renew that subscription!).

We are also having some seminars in August to follow up on some of the extraodinary discussions that have gone on in the July seminars.

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rick underwood pictureOops! We made a mistake.

Last week, in our haste to get 700 fliers created, printed, and shipped to the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) office for their annual conference, we made a huge mistake in misspelling the most important word on the flier. The flier was reviewed by our staff, program committee and myself. A note for the future to all interested persons: chaplain is spelled with an "i".

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r underwoodAncient wisdom tells us that unless we have a vision we will perish. A compelling vision draws us toward a shared future story. What will it be for the Oates Institute?

As I begin my journey as Director of the Oates Institute, the number one challenge is to facilitate the creation of a shared vision we can embrace, get excited about, and work together to realize. We need your help. We want you to be involved in this process.

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Dr. Chris HammonMy cancer, the Weed as I call it, has been a great teacher over the past almost four years as I have explored pastoral and spiritual care firsthand from a patient perspective. It has provided deeper insights into who I am as a person, spouse, friend, and colleague. Insights into who I am as a creative, caregiver, and educator. It has also provided firsthand experience and insight into my own expectations regarding pastoral and spiritual care as well as our common quest for meaning and sense of belonging. It has made me aware of our opportunities for activating our spiritual resources for generating hope, energy, and attitude in living with a serious illness or injury.

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chris-may12-02One of our board members has challenged the board and the institute with a $5,000 matching grant to help us provide incentive grants enabling churches to join the Oates Institute's new Congregational Care Network. The challenge is to match her $5,000 contribution by inviting others to join us in helping to launch this new program. I have stepped up to do my part—even though I am staff, and not board—and committed to raising $500 from people I know to help the board reach their goal. My reason for doing this is because I am really excited about what we are introducing with our Congregational Care Network. I believe it will make a difference.

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chris-may12-02I continue to have the most fascinating conversations with people involved in various aspects of health and spiritual care. There is such creative energy as they retell stories of people’s experience with spiritual caregivers and stories about their experience as caregivers. I hear stories about challenges faced, things tried, and creative approaches discovered. Some work, some don’t, and all them provide great learning opportunities. I often hear myself saying, “I’d love to have an article on that for the Oates Journal.” So I am revisiting this invitation I issued a year or so ago.

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Chris HammonOver St. Patrick's Day weekend the Oates Institute's main website was attacked by people wanting to turn our site into a source for malware. Since this is our primary campus, it was a serious problem. We caught the problem quickly and took care of the threat. However, some of our foundations were damaged in the process. Thankfully, we were able to restore the site from our backup, but we were no longer able to make changes to it.

During this time, Google also took notice and promptly put a big warning and a block on the Oates Institute's site. Many of you noticed this and let us know. We thank you for that. And we thank you for standing by patiently as we rebuilt the site. The new site is up and the Google warnings are gone.

Bringing forth new life and a fresh look seems appropriate for this season, and we will be continuing to explore that.

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Chris HammonI was moving some conference presentations around in preparation for a seminar that we are offering this month and discovered that there were some really valuable resources hiding over in a corner on the website that we have not been using. Even I forgot they were stored back over there and I am probably the only person that knows they are there. Yes, it is time to move them from the basement into a library where people from around the world may find and access them. We have not been trying to keep these presentations secret, though we have been successfully doing that. This is just one reason for the new Center for Oates Studies. We now need just 40 more bricks to be contributed so that we can build it.

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WinterScene-2011sToday is the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere; the culmination of a season of growing darkness overcoming the light. As we look around, there is plenty that we have associated with darkness ranging from the economy to conflicts to the loss of innocence. Within the Christian tradition, we faced celebrating the Sunday in Advent that we associate with joy by mourning the loss of innocent lives in Newtown, Connecticut, and feeling paralyzed by threats of an impending fiscal cliff. The darkness threatens to overwhelm the day, the month, the future.

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