Pamela Cooper-White Appointed to New Academic Chair
Decatur, GA—Pamela Cooper-White has been named the Ben G. and Nancye Clapp Gautier Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care, and Counseling at Columbia Theological Seminary. This new academic chair is supported by a gift from the Gautiers in memory of their daughter, Yvonne Louise Gautier, who struggled for years to find spiritual guidance as she battled the disease of schizophrenia. “We made this gift to Columbia,” says Ben Gautier, “to help prepare pastors who can minister effectively not only to those who have mental illness, but also to their family members, especially parents. Sadly, early responses to my wife’s search for pastoral guidance left her feeling that our daughter’s mental illness resulted from her mother’s lack of faith. Only toward the end of our daughter’s life did she receive the professional care necessary to treat her mental illness and to allow her to accept herself as a child of God.” Cooper-White, who joined the seminary faculty last summer, is widely regarded as one of the most influential scholars in the field of pastoral theology. She is the recipient of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors’ 2005 national award for “Distinguished Achievement in Research and Writing,” she is the author of Many Voices: Pastoral Psychotherapy and Theology in Relational Perspective (2006), Shared Wisdom: Use of the Self in Pastoral Care and Counseling (2004), and The Cry of Tamar: Violence Against Women and the Church's Response (1995) which won the 1995 Top Ten Books award from the Academy of Parish Clergy. An Episcopal priest and pastoral psychotherapist, Cooper-White is certified as a clinical Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and currently serves as publications editor of the Journal of Pastoral Theology. “When I met Ben Gautier last October,” says Cooper-White, “I was deeply moved by his love for his daughter, and his desire to permanently establish a faculty position at Columbia Seminary, so that religious leaders could always be educated about the suffering of persons who struggle with mental and emotional illness. This is at the heart of our pastoral care and counseling curriculum: to equip and sensitize pastors and counselors--both psychologically and theologically--to facilitate healing, growth, and empowerment among all those they serve.” Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, GA, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA).