Scheer youngest in declining LCMS CPE supervisor ranks

When Rev. Jeffery Scheer takes the reins of the Clinical Pastoral Educaticpe.gifon (CPE) program at Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) in St. Louis on July 1, he will be the Synod’s youngest full-time LCMS CPE supervisor at an LCMS Recognized Service Organization that offers that particular ministry training.

Scheer, 48, will replace Rev. Joel Hempel, the current CPE center administrator, who has already retired to a half-time position with LSS after serving the program since it began in 1990. Scheer joins a declining number of 13 fellow LCMS CPE supervisors, including most who serve only part-time and are approaching retirement. Other LCMS CPE supervisors, Scheer said, teach CPE mainly through hospital programs. CPE training takes place in both the classroom and in clinical settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons, with the focus on practical ministry applications.

Boosting the number of LCMS CPE supervisors is one goal of the Specialized Pastoral Ministry Recruitment (SPMR) Task Force, which met April 3-4 in St. Louis and is under the auspices of LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Another objective is to encourage more LCMS church workers to serve in specialized pastoral ministries – in institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and nursing homes — and as pastoral counselors in congregations and social ministry organizations.

Aging baby boomers are among those fueling the need for more church workers to serve in specialized settings, especially those that serve older adults. “Our congregations are graying,” said Hempel, SPMR Task Force chairman. “As more baby boomers approach retirement, we need more pastors and deaconesses serving in institutions who can hear and stay present to the multiple losses that come with aging. Our seminaries are only able to lay the foundation for effective pastoral care. But additional training is available to further equip our ministers for this much needed service to the church.”

Hempel and others involved with specialized pastoral ministries call institutions such as hospitals mission fields. “Hospitals are required to have a spiritual care presence, and we want more of our Lutheran chaplains to be equipped to serve there,” he said. 

Scheer, who is also an SPMR Task Force member, first served LSS as a chaplain and CPE student through the LSS intern/vicarage program. A 2004 Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, graduate, he received Associate Supervisor status from the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education and expects to earn full CPE supervisor certification early next year.

The LSS CPE program offers accredited courses for students seeking to pursue ministry work and provides opportunities for pastoral contact with residents and families at senior living communities. The program specializes in areas of ministry related to pastoral care, counseling, and older adult ministry. For information, visit

The next SPMR Task Force meeting is Oct. 9-10 in St. Louis. To learn more about the task force or LCMS Specialized Pastoral Ministry, contact Specialized Pastoral Ministry Coordinator Judy Ladage at, 800-248-1930, ext. 1388, or visit

Posted May 5, 2009

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