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Orthodox Theologians, Therapists, and Physicians Gather at Chicago OCAMPR/OTSA Conference

December 20, 2019

CHICAGO – Isolation. Violence. Hope and Communion was the theme of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion (OCAMPR) annual conference that was held November 7-9 and was hosted by the Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview, Illinois. The Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA) held their annual conference concurrently with OCAMPR, providing additional opportunities for fellowship and dialogue for all 150 participants.

“We had tornado drills in elementary school when I was young. Now we have active shooter drills,” shared Dr. Philip Mamalakis, President of OCAMPR, in discussing the rationale for choosing this year’s theme. Dr. Mamalakis continued, “the OCAMPR conference is a place where we can discuss how we respond as a Church to the pressing pastoral issues we face informed by our various disciplines. We have excellent speakers, faithful Orthodox Christians who are leaders in their respective fields, speaking on the theme.”

His Grace, Bishop Irinej [Dobrijevic] of Eastern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America introduced the conference theme in his keynote address.

The medical perspective was presented by Donald Jenkins, MD, FACS, a Clinical Professor in the Division of Trauma and Emergency Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX and a Distinguished Chair in Burn and Trauma Surgery and Associate Deputy Director of the Military Health Institute.

Kathryn Bocanegra, PhD, LCSW, a post-doctoral fellow at Loyola University of Chicago’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice, presented the psychological perspective.

Deacon Perry Hamalis, MDiv, PhD, the Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion at North Central College, Naperville, IL, offered the theological perspective.

The 19 workshops and 13 paper presentations offered rich opportunities for Orthodox Christian healthcare professionals, therapists, chaplains, theologians, clergy, and others to discuss how the Church’s healing traditions interface with contemporary theories and practices of care.

OCAMPR, an international pan-Orthodox organization endorsed by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, exists to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and promote Christian fellowship among healing professionals in medicine, psychology, and religion. Members pursue an understanding of the whole person that integrates the basic assumptions of medicine, psychology, and religion within the Orthodox Christian faith in educating and serving Church and community.

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