A most interesting program is being carried out at the Florida Sanitarium and Hospital. A group of thirty clergymen representing ten or a dozen different denominations, all working together in carefully planned seminars, attending daily lectures, and doing clinical visitation for a whole month in an Adventist institution, directed by an Adventist chaplain—this was something new! For some days I had the privilege of observing this program in operation.
This institute in clinical pastoral education was developed in response to a request from a group of hospital administrators for a clinical training course that would be distinctively Adventist. For the first two years it was limited to the training of chaplains. But now it has branched out to include also the needs of the church pastor, both Adventist and non-Adventist. Four other local hospitals besides our Florida Sanitarium have made their facilities available to the institute for clinical visitation. Here the trainees apply practically the lessons and insights they are learning in the seminars and lectures given by C. A. Reeves and his associate, H. C. Ray. Two psychiatrists and other members of the medical staff also assist as instructors. Intensive study is given in these courses to methods of pastoral, family, and marriage counseling. The age to which we have come seems to demand so much of a pastor's time in dealing with family problems. In these seminars ample opportunity is given for discussion of these vital issues.
The visitation program is unique, for pastor-patient interviews are required to be written up verbatim. The group breaks up into smaller "cells" where the trainee's case history or "verbatim" is brought under closer study and the strengths and weaknesses are discussed. Teaching films of excellent quality augment the lectures. And in addition 1,200 pages of required reading are assigned from the latest and best works in spiritual therapy and pastoral care. Ellen G. White's The Ministry of Healing is used as a basic book for all students. It is heartening to hear some of the comments made about this book by some of the non-Adventist clergy. Some of these men have written articles in the local newspapers expressing appreciation of the institute. "Since I know I have received insights valuable to any aspect of the ministry I heartily recommend this course to all who can possibly plan to attend," wrote Dr. Jack Davis, executive secretary of the Florida Council of Churches, who himself graduated from the institute. Another declared at a meeting of his ministerial council, "I would not take $500 for all I have learned at that Adventist hospital."
Could every one of our large medical institutions sponsor a program such as this, with its tremendous public relations and evangelistic potentials, it would mean much to the advancement of the cause of God. To bring groups of ministers into the environment of our own hospitals for four weeks of such intensive training, to have them enter into the discussions and profit from the instruction of dedicated Adventist teachers, is unique and surely fulfills the instruction from the messenger of the Lord who declares that we should make it our "special work to labor for ministers. Pray for and with these men for whom Christ is interceding" (Evangelism, p. 562).
Already twenty applications have come from ministers of many faiths asking that they be allowed to take the next clinical institute, which will be held from May 9 to June 3. Workers from a number of our overseas divisions have registered. Indeed, this course, with its exciting possibilities, would benefit ministers in every department of our work.