Teachers from 20 schools discuss pastoral care and counseling
Conference participants; Dr. Alvin Dueck and Mayor Bill Bogaard at center front
A celebration ceremony for 20 guests from China on Friday, August 10, marked their completion of a two-week pastoral care and counseling conference at Fuller’s Pasadena campus.
Attendees at the conference, which began July 30, were teachers from 20 of the 21 most prominent seminaries and Bible schools in China, who themselves provide seminary instruction at their home institutions located throughout China. The conference, led by Professor of Psychology Alvin Dueck and featuring talks from several Fuller faculty members, offered the teachers training and encouragement during this time of exchange and mutual learning.
Lin Manhong, Interim Dean of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and leader of the group, emphasized the need for pastoral care and counseling in China. “There are more opportunities and choices in all aspects of life today in China, but with those changes come more problems, stresses, and spiritual questions,” she said. “We need to teach students how to pastor congregations with the right kind of care and counseling after they graduate, because this is an important need for our churches.”
Fuller’s School of Psychology “is very strong in this area of study,” she noted, and conference participants have learned much. Yet it’s a time of mutual enrichment, she added: “I think that all the sharing during the sessions is also helping Fuller understand the Chinese perspective.”
Yue Qinghua, Vice President of Fujian Seminary (in southeast China), was another participant at the conference. "This is a wonderful arrangement from God," Mr. Yue commented. "I've enjoyed this rare opportunity to establish close relationships with Fuller and with each other."
One of the highlights of the conference, Mr. Yue said, was getting to hear from Fuller President Richard J. Mouw. "I appreciate the relationship President Mouw has already established with the churches in China."
Mr. Yue noted that the conference provided opportunities for dialogue and debate about pastoral counseling, including discussions of cultural differences between China and the U.S. as well as challenges common to both countries, such as providing care for the elderly, depression, and other issues.
Dr. Mouw, addressing the group early in the week, described the history of Fuller’s relationship with China—dating back to the 1983 visit of a Fuller delegation to China led by then-president David Allan Hubbard, up to today’s strong and growing connections.
“We hope to support, encourage, and learn from Chinese leaders, such as yourselves, as you meet the challenges of the growing and thriving church in China,” Dr. Mouw said, and described Fuller’s commitment to five principles in the seminary’s partnership with China: respect, mutual learning, responding to invitations, honoring the Chinese context, and listening well.
The conference explored how social changes in China are affecting individuals and the structure of the family, addressing such issues as premarital counseling, family counseling, Internet addiction, depression, and other challenges. Lectures and workshops provided an overview of and basic skills in pastoral care and counseling in Chinese churches, as well as teaching resources and assistance for participants in developing a pastoral care and counseling course for their seminaries and Bible schools.
Fuller faculty members who spoke included Juan Martínez, Tommy Givens, Siang-Yang Tan, Scott Sunquist, Maria Wong, Love Sechrest, Erin Dufault-Hunter, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Dale Ryan, and Bryant Myers, in addition to Dr. Dueck and Dr. Sing-Kiat Ting.
“I have so much respect for the work you are doing,” said Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who also offered brief comments at the conference. “Thank you so much for helping develop leaders for the future generations in China.” Above left: Lin Manhong; above right: Yue Qinghua