When Kate Anderson began her pastoral care work in a long-term care facility for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, she found that the standard pastoral assessment tools didn’t meet the unique needs or take into account the lived experiences of the very people they were meant to support.
In response, Anderson and her colleagues turned to Relational Spirituality, an approach to the study of the soul that integrates psychology and theology. Together they created a new pastoral care framework, which focuses on the Divine Investment in each person, on their soul identities and life stories, to create meaningful engagement. Through academic discussion and personal stories, Engaging the Sacred explores not just Anderson’s framework, but also the evidence of its success.
The fact that Kate Anderson found Relational Spirituality as the best theological and conceptual system to describe and guide her pastoral work with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is not surprising. It may be new to others, but it is a great match in a world where relationships trump conceptual ability all of the time. What is surprising is that she and others then faithfully followed the implications of that spirituality to build a framework for all of the caregiving at the faith-based facility where she was one of the chaplains, discovering along the way that it both matched and encouraged the emotional attachments and sense of reciprocity between staff at all levels and the people they supported, and for staff, between each other. If you want to know what difference faith-based care can provide, here it is.
Director, Summer Institute on Theology and Disability
The Reverend Kate Anderson shares with us insights she has gleaned from her ministry among those segregated as “intellectually disabled,” as well as from her own life, struggles, and faith. Whether you are in a formal pastoral care setting or simply a child of God in the pews and in the world, Engaging the Sacred will have you believing in the miraculous, Divine power found in our relationships and lived experiences. May we all learn to “invest in the spirit” of one another.
Pastor, University Baptist Church, Starkville, Mississippi
Author of A Rabbi & a Preacher Go to a Pride Parade and Of Mice and Ministers
Engaging the Sacred provides a fresh perspective on the transformational power of unconditional positive regard and of seeing the Christ image in others while operationalizing I-Thou relationships with an often underserved population. Kate Anderson’s stories of struggles with institutional systems, cultural bias, and theological blind spots provide us with a fresh approach to spiritual care with all persons, especially those who are developmentally delayed. The interdisciplinary application of relational spirituality offers hope in the midst of our health care crises and its overworked staff and financially strapped budgets. Her scriptural foundations and theological reflections make this a must-read for spiritual caregivers in hospitals, care homes, and local parish settings.
—G. Wade Rowatt
ACPE Certified Clinical Educator
Senior Professor, Pastoral Care and Counseling
Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Georgetown, Kentucky