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IASC Annual Conference 2021: What Is Spiritual Care?

Categories: Public Programs & Events

Join the International Association for Spiritual Care (IASC) for a series of five-webinars, exploring what spiritual care looks like through the lens of different professions. Each will begin at 12:00 pm Eastern (New York) time (GMT -5) and will run approximately 1 hour and 45 min.

Registration is required for live participation in the webinar. There is a $25 fee to attend each webinar. Register for all five, and receive a discount. All webinars will also be livestreamed and recordings will be made available after each livestream on the IASC Facebook page.

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Webinar access is free to IASC members and Union Theological Seminary students but will require pre-registration. If members or students have questions about registration, please email Ian Rees at [email protected].

Participants who attend all 5 webinars can receive a Certificate of Completion issued by Union Theological Seminary. This may be used as proof of attendance (7.5 hours) as self-report CEU’s, Methodology #1, Association of Professional Chaplains/Board of Chaplaincy Certification: 


January 5, 2021 — Medicine — 12pm ET
Moderator: Claudia Kohli Reichenbach, PhD (Universität Bern/ Institut für Praktische Theologie, Switzerland)
Panelists: Christina Puchalski, MD, MS, OCDS, FACP, FAAHPM
Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH

January 12, 2021 — Public Health — 12pm ET
Moderator: Emmanuel Lartey, PhD (Candler School of Theology/Emory University, Atlanta)
Panelists: John Blevins, ThD
The Rev. Pauline Wanjiru Njiru, PhD Cand.
Mohammed Bailor Jalloh, MD

January 19, 2021 — Psychology — 12pm ET
Moderator: Pamela Cooper-White, PhD (Union Theological Seminary, New York)
Panelists: Kenneth Pargament, PhD
Pninit Russo-Netzer, PhD
The Rev. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, PhD

January 26, 2021 — Nursing — 12pm ET
Moderator: Claudia Kohli Reichenbach, PhD (Universität Bern/ Institut für Praktische Theologie, Switzerland)
Panelists: Linda A. Ross, BA Nursing, PhD, RGN, FHEA
Wilfred McSherry, PhD, FRCN
Maya Zumstein-Shaha, PhD, RN, FAAN

February 2, 2021 — Pastoral and Spiritual Care
Moderator: Claudia Kohli Reichenbach (Universität Bern/ Institut für Praktische Theologie, Switzerland)
Panelists: The Rev. Pamela Cooper-White, PhD
The Rev. Emmanuel Yartekwei Lartey, PhD
Chaplain Kei Okada


Christina Puchalski, MD, MS, OCDS, FACP, FAAHPM

Dr. Christina Puchalski is the founder and Executive Director of the George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWish) and Professor of Medicine at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Through her innovative curricular development including the development of the widely used spiritual history tool FICA she continues to break new ground in the understanding and integration of spiritual care in healthcare settings as an essential element of whole-person care which has led to the development of Interprofessional Spiritual Care Education Curriculum (ISPEC). Dr. Puchalski is author of Time for Listening and Caring: Spirituality, Care of the Seriously Ill and Dying, and co-author of Making Health Care Whole and The Oxford Textbook of Spirituality and Health. In 2018, Dr. Puchalski was named as one of “30 Visionaries” in the field by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH

Dr. Jessica Zitter specializes in Critical Care and Palliative Care medicine, and practices at a public hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life. Her work is featured in the Oscar and Emmy-nominated short documentary Extremis, and her forthcoming film, Caregiver: A Love Story. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or visit her website.

John Blevins, ThD

Dr. John Blevins is an Associate Research Professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University (Atlanta USA). Trained in religious and theological studies with an emphasis in pastoral theology, John is the Director of the Interfaith Health Program, an initiative that aims to understand the varied influences of religion on individual and cultural beliefs, perceptions, and practices related to health.  John is also affiliate faculty in the Graduate Division of Religion in the Laney Graduate School at Emory. He is actively working on initiatives at the intersection of religion and global health in over a dozen countries around the world. John has authored numerous academic articles on religion and public health and is the author of To Transfer the Empire of the World: Christianity’s Role on United States Global Health and Development Policy.

The Rev. Pauline Wanjiru Njiru, PhD Cand.

The Rev. Pauline Wanjiru Njiru is a priest in the Anglican church of Kenya working for The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy (WCC-EHAIA) as the Eastern Africa Regional Coordinator.  A PhD  candidate at the University of St Paul’s specialising in Mission studies, her areas of expertise include:  gender (transformative masculinities and femininities),  HIV, working with people on the margins especially grandmothers parenting grandchildren orphaned by AIDS and people living with HIV, spearheading intergenerational safe space conversations and mentoring young people.

Mohammed Bailor Jalloh, MD

Dr. Mohammed B. Jalloh is the Director of FOCUS 1000 in Sierra Leone and formally worked with UNICEF.  He coordinates inter-religious initiatives to improve child health.  The initiatives work with Christian clergy, Muslim imams, and traditional healers to address childhood illness and death in every district in the country.  Building on this network, Dr. Jalloh has also coordinated emergency response programs with faith leaders and faith communities in response to Ebola and in response to COVID-19.

Kenneth Pargament, PhD

Dr. Kenneth Pargament is a professor emeritus of psychology at Bowling Green State University. He has published extensively on religion, spirituality, and health, and authored The Psychology of Religion and Coping: Theory, Research, Practice and Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred.  Dr. Pargament is Editor-in-Chief of the 2013 two-volume APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. With Julie Exline, he has authored the soon-to-be-published Shaken to the Core:  Spiritual Struggles in Research and Clinical Practice.

Pninit Russo-Netzer, PhD

Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer is a senior lecturer and the head of the Education Department at Achva Academic College, and a researcher at the department of counseling and human development, University of Haifa. Her main research and practice interests focus on meaning in life, positive psychology, existential psychology, spirituality, positive change and growth. Dr. Russo-Netzer is the founder and head of the ‘Compass’ Institute for the Study and Application of Meaning and the head of the Academic Training Program for Logotherapy (meaning-oriented psychotherapy) at Tel-Aviv University. She develops training and intervention programs on these topics, serves as academic advisor and consultant to academic and non-academic institutions, and the co-developer and co-instructor of the Mindfulness-Based Meaning Program (MBMP), and the co-editor of the books Meaning in Positive and Existential Psychology, Clinical Perspectives of Meaning and Search for Meaning in the Israeli Scene.

The Rev. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, PhD

The Rev. Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University in Atlanta, teaching courses in pastoral care and counseling, spiritual formation, and reconciliation studies. She began her career as a clinical research psychologist, earning degrees from Emory University (B.A., Psychology and African-American/African Studies) and the University of Miami (MS and PhD, Clinical Child/Family Psychology) focusing on ethnic minority families, adolescent development, and health disparities. She earned her MDiv from Duke University. With her unique background in behavioral health, theology, and race/gender studies, her work focuses upon identifying and healing the individual and societal legacies of racial and gender oppression.  She is the author of Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength and most recently, I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation.

Linda A. Ross, BA Nursing, PhD, RGN, FHEA

Dr. Linda A. Ross is a Professor of Nursing (specialising in spirituality) at the University of South Wales. Her PhD in 1992 was the first in Europe to explore nurses’ perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care which she published as a book in 1997. She has published extensively on the subject of spirituality, contributing to numerous texts such as the ‘Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare’ (2012) and ‘Spiritual Assessment in Healthcare Practice’ (2010). She contributed to the Royal College of Nursing’s ‘Spirituality in Nursing Care’ educational resources, and to the spiritual care guidance which accompanies the Welsh Government’s Health and Care Standards (2015). She is a founding member and Membership Secretary for the International Network for the Study of Spirituality (formerly BASS) and an Executive Editor for the Society’s affiliated journal ‘Journal for the Study of Spirituality’. She co-led (with 5 other partners) an Erasmus funded 3 year project to establish best practice in spiritual care nurse education across Europe (

Wilfred McSherry, PhD,  FRCN

Dr. Wilfred McSherry  is professor of nursing, Staffordshire University and University of Hospitals of North Midlands, Stafford, England. I graduate from the University of Hull in 1992 with a Bachelor Science (Hons) Nursing Sciences. After graduating I worked for several years within clinical practice in a range of nursing specialties, including medicine, gastroenterology, palliative care and care of the older person. In 1996 I moved into Higher Education taking up post as a Lecturer in Adult Nursing at Dumfries Campus part of Bell College Hamilton. I have held a number of lecturing posts prior to being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2001. While working at the University of Hull, along with colleagues we set up the Centre for Spirituality Studies which I directed until talking up this position in August 2008. My career in nursing continues to involve a combination of practice, education and research.

Maya Zumstein-Shaha, PhD, RN, FAAN

As faculty in nursing science, Dr. Zumstein-Shaha is an expert in Advanced Practice Nursing and Philosophy of Science. She is Adjunct Head of the Master of Science in Nursing Program of the Bern University of Applied Sciences, Department of Health. In her research, she focuses on the implementation and evaluation of Advanced Practice Nurses’ roles in primary care, the ongoing development of her nursing theory entitled “The Omnipresence of Cancer” and psychosocial aspects of cancer, particularly spirituality and spiritual care as well as ethical challenges in nursing.

The Rev. Pamela Cooper-White, PhD

The Rev. Dr. Pamela Cooper-White is Dean/Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion at Union Theological Seminary, New York.  She has published 9 books including Old and Dirty Gods: Religion, Antisemitism and the Origins of Psychoanalysis; Many Voices: Pastoral Psychotherapy in Relational and Theological Perspective; Shared Wisdom: Use of the Self in Pastoral Care and Counseling; and The Cry of Tamar: Violence against Women and the Church’s Response.  She is President of the IASC, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Psychology, Culture & Religion program unit of the American Academy of Religion, as well as several editorial review panels.  She is an Episcopal priest, licensed and board-certified clinical counselor (LCPC, NBCC), and pastoral psychotherapist.

The Rev. Emmanuel Yartekwei Lartey, PhD

The Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Y. Lartey is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spiritual Care at Candler School of Theology.  He teaches pastoral theology, care, and counseling at Candler, as well as in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion. An internationally acclaimed scholar, Lartey is recognized as a pioneer in the development of an intercultural approach to pastoral care and counseling, which argues for and models respectful engagement across racial, gender, class, cultural and religious boundaries. He is the author of 5 books including In Living Color: An Intercultural Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling; Pastoral Theology in an Intercultural World; Postcolonializing God: New Perspectives on Pastoral and Practical Theology;  and most recently (with Hellena Moon), Postcolonial Images of Spiritual Care: Challenges of Care in a Neoliberal Age.  He is a founding Board member of IASC.

Kei Okada, MDiv, BCC

The Rev. Kei Okada is the Program Manager, End-of-Life Spiritual Care at Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Hospice and Palliative Care.  Kei is a Board Certified Chaplain in BCCI, an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC); also is an ordained minister of American Baptist Churches, USA.  A Christian mystic and a visual artist, born in New York and raised in Kanazawa, Japan, he spent 8 years in visual and performing arts before studying at Union Theological Seminary and starting to pursue chaplaincy 28 years ago.  His focus in recent lectures and writings in U.S. and Japan has been on creative integration of inter-sensory & intra/inter-personal end-of-life consciousness and semantics in spiritual care.