Melbourne News

Book Review: The Mystery of God and the Power of Redemptive Relationships

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Graeme D. Gibbons
Stephen Ames and Eugen Koh [ed], Morning Star Publishing $24.95, paperback, 196 pages 
This book of essays was collated in memory of the late Reverend Roy Bradley who was a major figure in ecumenical ministry relationships in 1960s Australia. This book of essays was collated in memory of the late Reverend Roy Bradley who was a major figure in ecumenical ministry relationships in 1960s Australia. While he was an Anglican chaplain at Mont Park Mental Hospital in Melbourne, Bradley decided he needed further training and education and won a Fulbright Scholarship to train as a Psychiatric Hospital chaplain in a large State Mental Health Hospital in South Carolina. 

During his training in the United States, Bradley discerned that Australia needed this kind of Clinically Supervised Pastoral Education for clergy and went on to gain the qualification necessary to conduct Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

Edited by Stephen Ames and Eugen Koh, the essay subjects and writers are varied.

The first is a rare piece of published writing by Roy Bradley himself, completed a few months prior to his death in 2017 at the age of 91. In his essay, Roy shares the story of his return to Melbourne and his connections with Theologians and Psychologists, like Professor Graeme Griffin at Ormond College and Fr Gerald Daly Rector of Newman College who had been Secretary to the international Psychiatrist Dr Karl Menninger.

Bradley also became a significant part of a Health and Welfare Chaplains Group and developed strong links with Marriage and Lifeline Counsellors. The group he was part of formed the Victorian Association of Supervised Pastoral Education, which has since 1973 accredited supervisors to conduct programmes of CPE in Victoria.

The essays in memory of Bradley are from a wide collection of contributors. Stephen Ames and I were students with Roy at the Austin in the early 1970s. Stephen presents an important paper on dementia and I present an essay on suicide.

Cecilia Francis, a supervisory colleague with Roy, explores ‘the interface between supervision and leadership’ an issue of great importance for both the Church and Society. Bruce Rumbold is Director of the Palliative Care Unit in the Department of Public health at La Trobe University Melbourne.

Also included in the selected list of essayists are: Eugene Koh a psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst and an active member of St Philip’s Collingwood whose essay ‘The Dark Side’, shares his work with Australia’s Indigenous people; Stuart Soley, an Anglican Priest at St Mark’s Collingwood, writes in ‘the hope of fostering the healing work of Christ in the Church in general and for God’s LGBTIQ + people in particular.’

There is also a wonderful essay by Kim Stephens, a man who knows tragedy and thanked Roy for ‘providing a sense of belonging.’ Stephens is a psychologist and non-believer who consults with Victoria Police and the Richmond Football Club in an attempt to help people find meaning in their lives.

Especially compelling is the essay by Jenni Wegener, a Melbourne woman who is currently President of the International Council of Pastoral Care and Counselling. She presents three vignettes of supervision where the supervisor is confronted by issues of authority and power in ministry workspaces. In each of the three vignettes of modern supervision, the redemptive relationship that opens the door to effective supervision emerges only when those supervised experience the supervisor enter their world through empathic understanding.

The paperback is well worth $24.95 and is available from Morning Star Publishing or the Centre for Spirituality of Care and Community. 
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