Naming the Pain in the Language of Prayer: Wednesday, October 31, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon in the Goodykoontz-Crutchfield Education Center at VIPCare


A program led by Donald D. Denton, Jr., DMin and Douglas M. Thorpe, PhD

Pastoral counselors bring to the task of assessment the twin lenses of contemporary psychology and the time-tested wisdom of the world’s major religious traditions.  Too often, the psychological lens dominates the process of assessment and the spiritual perspective gets relegated to a secondary position – or even neglected altogether.

In this workshop Donald Denton, author of two books on assessment, and Douglas Thorpe, who teaches assessment for Doctor of Ministry students, seek to correct the imbalance by focusing attention on methods and resources for spiritual assessment.

Questions? Please call VIPCare at 804.282.8332 or email 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

9:00 a.m. – 12 noon

Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care

2000 Bremo Road, Suite 105

Richmond, VA 23226


Emerging Adulthood: VIPCare Counselor Meredith Southwell's Work with Young Adults


Emerging adulthood, a recently described phase of human development coined by Dr. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts), is a stage of growth with “a focus on ages 18-25.”

Distinct from adolescence and adulthood, it is a period that can pose unique challenges and obstacles---when “love, work, and worldviews” are explored in greater depth. Five features of emerging adulthood include: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between, and feelings of possibility.

Entering counseling during emerging adulthood can be a rewarding and effective way to grow through the periods unique challenges; working with a counselor can help emerging adults tackle the confusion, instability, and questions of identity that may emerge.

Meredith Southwell, a licensed clinical social worker at VIPCare, is passionate about providing counseling to young adults dealing with challenges of emerging adulthood.

To contact Ms. Southwell, please call VIPCare at 804-282-8332 or email her at

For additional information on emerging adulthood, please click on the link below:



Memories of Uncle Bob by Executive Director Douglas M. Thorpe

In April we said our final goodbyes to Uncle Bob.  In keeping with the current demand for “full disclosure,” I need to say that Bob Peterson was not my uncle in the strict sense of relation through biology or marriage.  He was my uncle because he adopted me and the 200 other students who passed through the Ubangi Academy during the years he and Aunt Ruth Ann were dorm parents there.

Uncle Bob taught me many important lessons which shaped my character and habits.  Two of the skills he taught me stand out for the lasting impact they exerted on my life.  Uncle Bob taught me how to play the trombone and he taught me how to sharpen a saw.

Trombone playing was one of the great joys of Uncle Bob’s life.  He played with a warm tone, a smooth legato, a keen ear for the often-elusive pitch of a slide instrument, and a passion he rarely let show in other venues.  As a teacher and band leader his patience never flagged, even when we junior band strugglers mangled the melodies of the simplest tunes.  One of the third trumpets was too nervous to play a tuning C so she cajoled her stand mate into surreptitiously playing the C while she boldly faked it.  Uncle Bob commented, “The third trumpet is flat.  In fact, both third trumpets are flat.”  Maybe he was fooled by their ruse, or maybe he was oh-so-subtly letting them know he was on to them but was not going to shame them in front of the whole band.


What You Can Do To Prevent Suicide by Douglas M. Thorpe, VIPCare Executive Director

Since the beginning of June, old and new media outlets alike have published anguished reports about the rising rate of suicide in the United States.  These stark statistics gained poignant specificity with news that designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain had taken their own lives.  Fans, friends and families alike were left grieving, searching for causes, and asking unanswerable questions about any clues they might have missed in the actions of these two highly acclaimed stars of their respective fields.

No single cause adequately explains a person’s choice to kill themselves, let alone the rising rate of suicide across the country.  Depression and other forms of emotional and spiritual pain often play a role, but other factors contribute and place men, especially white men, at greatest risk.  Journalist Mitch Smith, writing in the New York Times on June 10, 2018, quotes Misty Vaughan Allen, suicide prevention coordinator for Nevada: “There are mental health components, but also there’s relationships, employment, a lack of connectedness that we might see in males that increases the risk for suicide.”  A history of trauma can be a factor, contributing to a rate of suicide among veterans that is twice as high as nonveterans.  Easy access to guns also plays a role, not because gun owners are more likely to attempt suicide, but because attempts by firearm are lethal at a much higher rate than attempts by any other means. 

If you are thinking about killing yourself, don’t do it.  You will solve nothing.  You will only hurt those who remain.  Instead, talk to someone.  Tell a friend, a family member, a member of the clergy, or a co-worker.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).  Go to a hospital emergency room.  Call VIPCare at 804-282-8332 and make an appointment to see one of our counselors.  There are people who will walk with you through your troubles until hope returns.

VIPCare Counselors Participate in Series at Huguenot Road Baptist Church

on Emotional HealtH and CHAllenges

Huguenot Road Baptist Church Speaker Series: Emotional Health and the Challenges We Face

Wednesday nights, April 11 to May 16, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Huguenot Road Baptist Church, 10525 W Huguenot Rd, North Chesterfield, VA 23235, Room 102-103, phone (804) 272-2072,

4/11 Dr. Dan Bagby, Professor of Pastoral Care, Baptist Theological Seminary – “Stressors We Face”

4/18 Dr. Vic Maloy, Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care (VIPCare) – “When We Grieve”

4/25 Ms. Mary Ann Johnson, Ret. Program Dir. Greater RVA Alzheimer’s Assoc. – “Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease”

5/2 Peggy Newman, VIPCare -- “Caring for Family Members with Mental Illness”

5/9 Dr. Doug Thorpe, VIPCare – “Finding Hope and Healing through Faith”

5/16 Mr. John Tyler, Chesterfield County Mental Health Support Services – “What Resources are Available?”

The series is free and open to everyone.

Counselor Dennett Slemp Retires

April 1, 2018 Last Official Day

Counselor Dennett C. Slemp attended his final staff meeting on Wednesday, March 25, 2018.  During the meeting, he shared his retirement plans to 'seek wonder' and continue to 'see the ordinary as holy.'

He also reflected on his years of counseling work (he has held counseling sessions from St. Stephen's Episcopal Church since the 1970s) and his belief that much of our lives is a search 'to live without despair not knowing.'

Dennett Slemp's last official day is Sunday, April 1, 2018.  

VIPCare's Waiting Room Re-Opens

new furniture to be installed shortly

VIPCare's Waiting Room is again open. Structural improvements have been made to the waiting room, the group room, and restrooms. New furniture will be installed shortly.

VIPCare's office accessibility upgrades are made possible by a generous grant from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation.

Interior design work was donated by RoseMarie Bundy and Lucy Dabney from Evolve Architecture, a Wendel Company. Dallan Construction completed the onsite renovations.

Panel on 'Thriving in Ministry' Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Virginia Union University

Join us as the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care Takes Part in a Panel Discussion:

'Thriving in Ministry'

presented by the The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University

location: Allix B. James Chapel, Coburn Hall, Virginia Union University
Saturday, February 24, 2018
8:30-10:30 a.m.

Sister Cora Marie Billings, RSM, Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community (and VIPCare Board of Directors)
The Rev. Dr. J. Elisha Burke, Director of Health Wellness, Men's and Social Justice Ministries, Baptist General Convention of Virginia
The Rev. Dr. Peter Kim, Director of Pastoral Care, Bon Secours Richmond Health System
The Rev. Dr. Mary B. Thorpe, Director of Transition Ministry, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Rev. Janie Walker, Co-Pastoral Director, Richmond Hill

Dr. Jessica Young Brown, Assistant Professor of Counseling & Practical Theology and the Director of the Barry Young Center, Virginia Union University
The Rev. Dr. Douglas M. Thorpe, Executive Director, Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care

Free and open to the public.

For more information, contact STVU at 804-257-5715 or VIPCare at 804-282-8332.

Remarks from VIPCare's 50th Anniversary Celebration by The Rev. Dr. Jean Emile Ngue, African Counseling Center

 PHOTO: l to r, The Rev. Dennett Slemp, The Rev. Dr. Jean Emile Ngue, The Rev. Dr. W. Victor Maloy, and Mary Fran Hughes-McIntyre at VIPCare's 50th Anniversary Celebration, September 28, 2017

PHOTO: l to r, The Rev. Dennett Slemp, The Rev. Dr. Jean Emile Ngue, The Rev. Dr. W. Victor Maloy, and Mary Fran Hughes-McIntyre at VIPCare's 50th Anniversary Celebration, September 28, 2017

Dear President of the Board of VIPCare, Executive Director of VIPCare, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here to celebrate a vision, a spirit, that began 50 years ago. And it is my honor and my privilege to be a part of this celebration. I spent 3 years as a student at VIPCare.   The seed that was planted in my heart through a strong education, a deep sense of spirituality, and a network of healing relationships gave birth to the African Counseling Center (ACC).  For 15 years, individuals, families, children, widows, and people in crisis situations have found meaningful lives through the ACC in Cameroon, Africa.  Today, the ACC has a permanent building. John and Sandy Hamilton advocated for this project and the Trinity United Methodist Church in Richmond funded the building.

I am a disciple of Carl Jung and  Erik Erickson, and in this sense VIPCare is the womb through which I experienced a rebirth of my African identity.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Victor Maloy, the former Executive Director, Dr. Mary Fran McIntyre, Rev. Dennett Slemp, and the late Dr. Sandy Hamilton.  This team came to Cameroon in 2002 to train pastors and implement pastoral care and counseling. Now, many pastors and lay-people are practicing counseling and pastoral care.  Board members, Staff of VIPCare, companions in Hope, thank you for your partnership and the sense of belonging. The world context is changing, and new issues are rising. We continue count on VIPCare’s mentorship to address those issues professionally.  May God continue to use us for His Glory for the next 50 years.

An African proverb says, “when a forest grows, it does not make noises.” You just see the trees and the wonderful vegetation. VIPCare, like a forest, grows silently and after 50 years we can see the visible sign of God's Presence in the midst of this institution.

At the end, I want to give a special attention to 2 people who changed tremendously many lives in Cameroon.  In their honor the African Counseling Center has changed the name. The new name is the “Sandy and Mary Fran Foundation.

Thank you.

Rev. Dr. Ngue, Jean-Emile

President of the Sandy and Mary Fran Foundation

Rev Dr Jean - Emile NGUE
BP 20 319 Yaoundé - Cameroun