View from the Road: ACPE Entrepreneurs
By Wayne Menking, Director of Community, Practice, and Member Development | April 8, 2019

Entrepreneurship and entrepreneur are generally not terms that we apply to ACPE Certified Educators or to the work of clinical pastoral education. After all, the language of entrepreneurship is usually associated with business ventures whose goals have to do with turning a profit on an investment. However, in my travels around the organization, I have discovered that there is an entrepreneurial spirit among many of our colleagues who are venturing into new contexts and new ways of applying our learning process. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a spirit of entrepreneurship exists among most educators, even in what appear to be conventional and traditional settings. I hope to convey in this brief article, entrepreneurship is part of who we are and keep us on the cutting edge of providing quality spiritual care education in both traditional and new contexts!

Entrepreneurship is defined as “the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which is often a small business. The people who create these businesses are called entrepreneurs.” Other definitions specifically suggest that an entrepreneur is one who organizes and launches a new business, usually taking on greater than normal financial risks. My image of an entrepreneur is someone who sees an opportunity and possibility that others haven’t, one who has an idea or vision beyond the conventional and is willing to venture out and take the risks to turn that vision into a reality. I am guessing that not too many of us have thought of entrepreneurship as a trait that aligns with being an ACPE Certified Educator. Yet when we begin to think of the number of our colleagues who envision and create new venues and ways of doing clinical pastoral education – often with no guarantee of success – then it is easy to see that our passion for what we do often awakens our inner entrepreneurial spirit! We are likely to be more entrepreneurial than we might have thought!

Consider Silvia Tiznado, a recently fully certified educator in Phoenix, AZ. Within her community, she saw a need for trained “community chaplains” to work in the Latino community with persons who live in assisted living housing. In conjunction with a local Disciples of Christ congregation, and with the help of the San Francisco Night Ministry with whom she is creating a satellite arrangement, Silvia is creating a community-based program, Templo Centrale CPE, that will specifically train local lay and clergy for the ministry she envisions. The beginning of this new program will be celebrated in conjunction with the Latino Community of Practice’s meeting at the annual conference in Scottsdale in May.

Consider also, Soomee Kim and her United Methodist Church colleagues in Nashville who are creating the Center for Integrative Pastoral Practice. While the center will have a broad mission of ministry and professional development within the UMC, a key component of its work will be offering ACPE programs of CPE to UMC ordination aspirants and others through a hybrid online program. She is presently working with Kido Ahn at CPE of Central California to create a satellite arrangement and will eventually pursue full accreditation.

Think also of Carolyn Barksdale who heads the ACPE accredited freestanding program RC Freedom Ministries in San Antonio, TX. RC Freedom offers a variety of programs including extended units for persons in the San Antonio area, and a variety of hybrid online programs that have included students in rural and isolated communities. In addition to all of this, Carolyn’s program contracts with the US Air Force to provide their CPE programs at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more “entrepreneurial” educators and centers in ACPE. Yet, these are examples of colleagues who, having seen needs and opportunities, have then responded with models and programs of CPE that are beyond our normal venues. The thing that impresses me about our entrepreneurial colleagues is that they venture out to create these programs without any guarantee of success. Especially for those who have no institutional backing and must rely on scant resources from wherever they can find them, the risks of failure are great. Yet they are not deterred in their drive to make their vision a reality! Why? Because they see common, ordinary people with gifts and skills for spiritual care who seek to live out a vocational calling, persons for whom the traditional venues of getting training may not be available. My sense is that they are driven by a passion for what we teach and by a vision for how this process will help people unleash their power for pastoral ministry and spiritual care.

It would be a mistake to limit the identity of “entrepreneur” only to those who have taken the risk to venture out and develop programs of CPE beyond the normal venues. Very recently, I was part of a conversation with an educator who heads a large system program. Some very significant changes are being made by the system that will directly impact the CPE program. While these changes pose a threat to the CPE program, this educator also sees that the system changes offer a significant opportunity for the CPE program to take on an even greater role in the organization and has already developed the proposal by which that can happen. It will take considerable work, tenacity, and determination to make the proposal a reality, but it is a proposal that is already gaining traction within the system. Without question, this educator is functioning as an entrepreneur as he seeks to adapt to the daunting changes that are taking place around him!

The language and identity of entrepreneurship are not limited to those who step out-of-the-box and go beyond what is conventional. They go hand in hand with the work of administering and developing CPE programs amidst the changing environments and contexts in which we offer our education! Yes! In a very real way, we are all entrepreneurs. We would not be where we are if it were not for that spirit among us. My hope is that we embrace this identity and let it continue to lead us into new and innovative ways of empowering persons for the holy work of spiritual care and education!
Wayne Menking is a Director of Community, Practice, and Member Development at ACPE: The Standard of Spiritual Care & Education. He may be reached at
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