1960s: Gaining acceptance

Few people today can have any conception of the impact that Frank Lake had on the churches when he started working with the clergy in 1958. His offer to set up seminars was immediately taken up in 11 dioceses, and 240 clergy went through the first year's course. Frank discovered that only five of those clergy had had any previous training in dealing with individuals. Clergy were desperate for help, and when it became known that he was offering courses in psychology they came flocking to hear him. So great was the demand that within three years there were 40 seminars around the country and 1,000 clergy in training.

At first Frank did all the teaching himself and what he accomplished was incredible. During that first year he drove 15,000 miles (or, on average, 10 hours driving a week). Then, in addition to 18 hours a week teaching in seminars, he took every opportunity to extend the work, speaking at meetings and conferences and liasing with leaders in the field. On top of that he wrote all the teaching material for the courses, delving deep into books on theology and psychology, while keeping up all the time with the latest literature. As well as that, he spent long hours doing psychotherapy. Often he would be up at five in the morning. His correspondence would be dealt with as he sped along the roads in his old Austin A30, dictating letters into his tape recorder. His energy and enthusiasm seemed boundless. And it went on like that year after year.

After the first year he needed assistance, and found another psychiatrist. By 1962, when the centre in Nottingham was established and the Association was formed, there were three psychiatrists and a corps of 25 trained tutors running 90 seminars. Already the work was beginning to penetrate into post-ordination training and the theological colleges. But it soon spread far beyond the confines of the Church of England, as people of all denominations and even other religions, as well as doctors, social workers, teachers, case workers, and many ordinary men and women became involved.

The centre in Nottingham, Lingdale, was also a hive of activity in those early years. It was a combination of office headquarters, clinic, day house, training college, retreat house and therapeutic community. No sooner had we purchased the house than it was too small. The problem always was that the demands on the staff for providing care and training were far and away beyond our ability to meet them either with personnel or finances. We lurched from one financial crisis to another, with Frank full of schemes for advancing the work, while many on the Council struggled to keep him in touch with reality. And the reality was that it was not easy for Frank and the men and women that he drew into the organization to discover a common purpose and evolve together into an effective team that could really serve the Church and the community. Sooner or later there would be parting of the ways.

Nevertheless the overall achievement in those years was impressive. By the end of the decade, not only had 1 in 11 of all clergy in the country been through the seminars, but also many thousands of people had been helped to a more fulfilling life. Perhaps the most significant impact of all was the influence that CTA had had on pastoral training in this country. But it was the end of an era. Frank had begun to move in new directions, and the 1970s were to be the start of a long journey for CTA as it moved towards its eventual transformation into the Bridge Pastoral Foundation.

Richard Dupuis

Read more about the history of BPF:
1970s: Facing up to challenge and change
1980s: Grappling with the disciplines
1990s: New life