1. International Conference on Spiritual Care and Counseling

First International Conference on Spiritual Care and Counseling

Pastoral and Spiritual Care Across Religions

Bern, 30.05. – 02.06.2015

Conference Programme

The First International Conference on Intercultural Spiritual Care and Counseling tackles challenges that emerge in pluralistic societies. Approaching the specific needs and actions of chaplaincy, spiritual care and counseling in different areas, the conference deals with major questions of intercultural, interreligious, and interdisciplinary dialogue. It introduces different concepts of caring and counseling across religions, analyses expectations of different communities towards spiritual care, and compares them critically with confession based pastoral care and counseling.

Addressing people’s needs in today’s pluralistic societies requires understanding, respect, and appreciation of others in their diversity. Therefore, encounter becomes pivotal and the exchange between Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, people without religious affiliation, and Atheists is of utmost importance and greatest value. Of equal significance is the cooperative approach of the disciplines concerned, in particular of theology, psychology, and medicine. These two are key issues of this conference which aims to promote a better integration and collaboration of people from different faith-backgrounds, cultures and groups.

The first part of the conference intends to grasp the concept of spiritual care from the perspectives of the three disciplines: pastoral care, psychology, and medicine and to describe its impact on each of them. The second part deals with spiritual and pastoral care and counseling in pluralistic societies, also taking into consideration the complexity of voluntary engagement. In particular, it will focus on the questions of how we can support more research in this area, and how we can implement future research results for the benefit of the general public. Thus, the conference’s wider purpose is to encourage the cooperation of researchers from different countries and disciplines working in the field of religious and spiritual care.

The conference is organized by the Faculty of Theology, University of Bern, Switzerland and the Protestant Academy of Landau, Germany. It took place in the House of Religions in Bern and was financed by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme.