2019 – 10th Anniversary Conference


Pastoral Supervision – revisited and revisioned” – with keynote speaker, APSE founder member Michael Paterson.

THANK you to our conference photographer Duncan Strathie and to our reporting team who submitted reflections.

ENERGISING, encouraging, reflective, warm, supportive — a snapshot of the 2019 APSE Annual Conference in Lancaster.

The conference, held at the University of Lancaster, celebrated 10 years of APSE and was a chance for people to renew old friendships and make new connections with others involved in Pastoral Supervision.

“Reflections of a first timer” by PETE SMALLWOOD

I arrived, instantly feeling as if I had been a part of this group for a long time. A welcoming and friendly environment was professionally organised by a small dedicated group who we are all immensely grateful to, in a relaxed and relational way. THANK YOU!
The hotel was comfortable and the meals were definitely to my taste. I appreciated that the celebration meal, either intentionally or not, was paced so that the focus remained on the conversations rather than on the food. It was a blessed time of meeting some old friends and making new ones. I encountered the whole group as warm and supportive.

Always time for cake! Cutting the 10th anniversary cake are Gill Carding (former Chair), Sue Clements-Jewery (Chair), Michael Paterson (speaker and founder member) and Mary Pearson (Transforming Practices, Australia)

The conference theme, “Revisited and Revisioned” helped me to get up to speed and feel involved in the future of the association. Sue’s introduction and stroll down memory lane included the cutting of her enormous celebration cake.

The “conversation starters” certainly achieved what they set out to do.
Michael Paterson reflected on how the original thinking of APSE was
influenced by clinical models of supervision and he highlighted the fight for primacy between theology and psychology. He challenged us to rethink this “hermeneutic tribalism”.

Here are some of the things I heard, (not necessarily what was said); Introducing his Soul + Role + Context model, Michael focused on what ignites the joy for the individual in their role and what is in their work environment that is suppressing the flames from burning brightly.

Michael asked, what excites us, what keeps the fire of the vocational-self burning and he suggests that “vocational wounding is a fire extinguisher on the soul”. He introduced us to five lenses that pastoral supervisors might view their clients through, and he made us aware that we might have a default lens related to our preferred way of working.

Time for table talk…There was plenty of food for thought this year

And lastly, but there was so much more, we should guard against becoming an organisation where wounded soldiers are sent to be patched up, become more resilient, only to be sent back into a toxic work space. We should instead (I suspect we should also) encourage our supervisees to develop skills of resistance.

I really appreciated the small group work we did, including the idea of “pop-up” groups where we chose the themes based on where, as Michael put it, “our energy was”.
I am left feeling as if APSE set of on a ramble 10 years ago. We have arrived at the top of a hill only to find Michael is on a neighbouring hill. Similar view but with a slightly different perspective.
I sense that if APSE were a snow globe, we gave it a really good shake and the snow now has to settle again perhaps in a slightly different formation. I am left feeling encouraged and energised and I thank everyone who took part for that.
Pete Smallwood is the co-ordinator of the JP2 Network. Find out more at www.JP2Directory.org

SUE JEPPESEN, one of our newly-appointed Trustees, writes:-

“HOW to sum up? Words that spring to mind: Hospitality,
welcome, a sense of celebration, looking back, looking forward and making connections, not only with past and present, theory and practice, but also with others.
A chance to reconnect with familiar faces but also an opportunity to meet and connect with new faces.
A wonderful couple of days which I greatly valued and would recommend to anyone who is thinking about attending an APSE conference in the future …

Time to speak … Founder member Michael Paterson

Michael Paterson was a gifted speaker and offered two stimulating “Conversations”, one on each day, which held the balance between looking back at APSE’s first 10 years and looking forward; challenging us to think about where we are now, what’s been achieved, what needs to be fine-tuned and where we are going in the future.

On reflection I think his two “Conversations” mirrored the frame of a really good supervision session, where we look back in order to move forward with time for enquiry and exploration in the separate group discussions that followed each of his talks!
A designated Sanctuary Space in the conference centre was very valuable for many of us, to “come away” and “be still” from the buzz and the many interesting and diverse conversations. Brenda Mosedale created the space and offered gentle music, with different colours and texts placed around the room to help prompt stillness and quiet reflection.
The conference passed so quickly, was so full and interesting that my head continued buzzing all the way back to Cambridge!
I am still thinking about different “lenses” and “frameworks” in supervision, the importance of role and organisational context within which an individual is working and continuing to reflect on Michael Paterson’s theological aligning of the Law, the Prophets and Wisdom literature with the normative, restorative and formative aspects of pastoral supervision.

“APSE conferences then (2009) and now (2019)” by DEBBIE FORD

Time to celebrate … some of the 2019 conference attendees

“NOT surprisingly, my memories of the first APSE conference back in 2009 are somewhat hazy, although I have a surprisingly clear sense of the room, its atmosphere, dynamics and, even some of the content: a group of participants, gathered to share and launch a vision for an organisation committed to developing the professional practice and training of pastoral supervision.
It felt quite ‘us’ (those of us invited to come and learn more) and ‘them’ (those already part of conversations on the inside): ‘them’ telling ‘us’ about the conception and birth of this new baby.

In his address ‘Supervision as Ministry’ (available on the APSE website), David Lyall described some of the back history of how APSE had come about. Most of the names and details were lost on me: people or organisations I knew little about, so made not a lot of sense.

Time to have fun!

This year (2019) Michael Paterson gave a distilled version from his perspective as a founder member: APSE came into being through conversations between those involved in Healthcare chaplaincy; Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and Ministerial formation: all seeking ways to combine the wisdom and expertise of therapeutic and psychological disciplines with theological ones. It suddenly helped me to understand many of the ongoing conversations and developments in APSE since.
What is ‘pastoral’ supervision? Is it predominantly ‘clinical’ supervision with a bit of ‘God’ or ‘spirituality’ thrown in (like CPE)? Or is/can it be more than that? How might the different disciplines engage with their difference(s) to stretch and take each other deeper into their individual identities and practices?

Time to ask questions…

How can we begin to identify and articulate the distinctive quality of transformation that regularly happens in pastoral supervision (in my experience of both, there is something quite distinctive in pastoral supervision)?
And what is God’s part it all?
Using Walter Brueggemann’s work on the development of the Old Testament and its parallels with the human life cycle, Michael helped us reflect on various stages in the life of APSE so far:
Youth (‘the Law’ – when we need law, order, structure and security to ensure security for development of a sense of self) and APSE’s normative focus on being ‘mainstream’ and accept-able; adulthood (‘the Prophets’ – moving us beyond rule-keeping and externalised sources of authority to healthy self-questioning and re-evaluating things) a more restorative focus (including a reconsider-ation of original definitions and understandings of APSE ); and maturity/wisdom (‘Wisdom Literature’ – seeking wisdom as we discern what it is we now need to leave behind and move on from and what will help us to move into the future) – APSE 2019 as we look ahead to the next 10 years.

Time for networking …

There were more gems, too: many more. Here are just a few I took away: different lenses to explore pastoral supervision through (diagnostic; solution-focussed; hermeneutical; identity; imaginative); encouraging conversation between ‘soul, role and context ‘in pastoral supervision; encouraging pastoral supervision that is genuinely recreative and brings about something new: not only resilience, but creative resistance and the ability to challenge systems and organisations where they need to be…

APSE 2019 was a pivotal conference. Perhaps partly because APSE is ‘coming of age,’ finding its body, and ready to ‘come out.’ But it was not only that: the quality of its energy, passion and life (for newbies and oldies alike), were evoked by the theological insights and wisdom Michael offered. Wisdom which resonated deeply and inspired us all to go deeper.

So for me, as APSE looks ahead to the next 10 years and beyond, absolutely crucial questions for us are:

  • What sources of wisdom are we going to draw on to help us articulate and grow in offering supervision that is centred on God?
  • Who is going to help provide theological wisdom, categories and language to help us think through, understand and articulate pastoral supervision?
  • Can we develop a model of pastoral supervision that is distinctively and deeply Christian (or other faith-based,) whilst open to all?
  • How are we going to incorporate this wisdom into the training (as well as the practice) we offer?
  • And how are we going to keep the conversations going so we can all go deeper together?
    It was good to meet and spend time with so many of you there: thank you.