Opening ceremony


AUGUST 4 – 10, 2019.

A hundred participants from as far afield as Norway, Sweden, Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua and the USA joined others from Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, to be educated, to reflect, and to share with each other on the theme of Learning to Serve People of Other Cultures.

Key note speakers and respondents explored the radical hospitality of true service within a world increasingly impacted by forced and chosen migration, technological advances, political and economic disenfranchisement and exploitation, nationalistic ideologies and absolutist religious views. Professor Felix Wilfred named such hospitality as “a cosmopolitanism that represents infinite openness of the spirit toward the other, and willingness to learn from the other and make oneself at home in the world of the other.” Professor Daniel Louw named it as “co-existence requiring interpathy and introspection to bring new and vivid expressions of seeing and experiencing the other as different but not a threat.” As pastoral carers and counsellors we are challenged to embrace the full experience of the other, allowing ourselves to enter into and come to meet them in their spiritual wholeness, as it is expressed in their diverse social, relational and belief practices and systems.

Accepting this foundational principle for our work confronts us with the complexity of our caregiving. Professor Brenda Ruiz further developed the harsh reality of de-humanising oppression present in our world, where those with unchecked power use methodologies to create overwhelming fear, mistrust and isolation annihilating a person’s connecting story, legitimacy and identity. Professor Emmanuel Lartey asked us “how are we relating to the political context that is the root of suffering?” Recognizing the very real intransigence of some destructive views and prejudices in our world, he urged us to “neither be intimidated or accept their response as OK, but to present our authentic self, as what heals is the authentic genuineness of the self who also recognizes this in the other”. For while there is great value in the genuine encounter, it is profoundly symbolic of the healing pathway for wider society.

Our congresses, prize the opportunity to learn from each other in our diversity through small group meetings and twelve different workshops enriched participants’ learning and understanding. Workshops included: Care for the healers following community trauma; Supporting the depressed and suicidal through a cultural frame; Pastoral care in prisons; Pastoral response to disasters; Pastoral response to sexual trafficking and exploitation; Indigenous and Islamic pastoral care and training; Mental health narratives in pastoral care; Becoming aware of our dominant narratives; Nuances in offering care and counselling from several different cultural perspectives.

Since ICPCC began forty years ago in 1979, we have had ten presidents. This congress was delighted to honour four past presidents who were able to attend, Kathy Turner (1991-1995), Emmanuel Y. Lartey (1999-2003), Nalini Arles (2007-2011), Daniel Louw (2011-2015) and retiring president David T. Ito at a celebratory lunch with cultural show.

A new executive has been elected for the next four year term: Jennifer Wegener (President – Australia); Heidi Abe (Vice President – Germany); Joseph George (Secretary – India), Catherine Brown (Treasurer – Australia) and Angela Yeo (Communications Officer – Singapore

The 2019 congress accepted the invitation of South Africa to host our 12 International Congress on Pastoral Care and Counselling after a presentation by convenor Vhumani Magezi, and team.

As participants, this congress challenged and enriched us for our return to our own contexts. We are grateful for the thoughtful hospitality by our hosts and convening team who gathered us together with warmth, and ensured the flow of the congress. It is the fellowship of such times that will remain with us until we meet again at our regional congresses in two years time, and in South Africa for our next international congress in 2023.

May the Peace that transcends all human frailty, mysteriously giving birth to Light and Hope in darkness, be with us all wherever we work and live, in our communities across the world.


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