1970s: Facing up to challenge and change

Oliver and Jean Forshaw reflect on this period:

Our first meeting with Frank was at a refreshment week for clergy and their wives at Scargill in the early 1960s. Oliver went to his first CT seminar sometime in the late 60s and then began to tutor as assistant to Richard Watson-Williams at our vicarage in Whitehaven where Jean also became involved.

Tutors’ conferences at Lingdale in Nottingham, the headquarters of the Clinical Theology Association at that time, were always challenging experiences. Frank would sit on the floor of the sitting room surrounded by paper, particularly the charts, and expound his material – looking at us over the top of his half-moon glasses. He would also take us through some of the exercises, notably the 16-man role-play. The Eucharist has always been an essential part of tutors’ conferences – Frank would preach and play the piano with enthusiasm.

“We first experienced the re-birthing process ……. an unforgettable experience.” 

It was at Lingdale that we first experienced the re-birthing process – for Jean at the gentle hands of Basil Hobbs - an unforgettable experience. Around this time a divergence began to develop in the association between those who were convinced of the necessity of incorporating the foetal material, and those who distanced themselves from it. This tendency to diverge was also apparent in those who were chary of Frank’s growing involvement in the charismatic movement, although he was himself markedly balanced in what he had to say on the subject. The articles he was asked to write in this regard on emotional healing were in fact only introducing to a wider circle in the Church, the insights and perspectives that many of us had already begun to realise within CTA before the extent of the Pentecostal experience had become widely known in the mainstream churches.

After Frank’s death, the 1982 conference in London to discuss the future was a critical time. But it was clear that there was energy and determination to continue the work. Peter van de Kasteele’s willingness to take up the burden of administration and leadership (with the Senior Clinical Group), was warmly welcomed. The adjustment to losing Frank’s outstanding leadership and developing research – both in respect of therapy and of theological reflection – was not achieved without casualties. The tutors were in good heart and eager to persevere but inevitably the pressures increased in the circumstances of accentuated dispersal.

The completion of a new tutors’ syllabus compiled by Michael Weatherly and the failure at that point to encourage and supervise the tutors generally and to train enough new tutors led gradually to the falling off of seminar numbers – and of income. The older tutors who were trained by Frank have retired and we must now look to the next generation.

“The tutors were in good heart and eager to persevere.”

We have been blessed by Alistair Ross’s dedication and all he has done, with the heart searching over the change of name to Bridge Pastoral Foundation, new initiatives in marketing in a changing climate, and new ways of handling the teaching programme. Now we look to the future, that the unique resources and opportunities for growth that the CT ethos and seminar style provide may continue, under God, to be widely available. The Church in her perpetual mission needs what BPF now carries forward.

Read more about the history of BPF:
1960s: Gaining acceptance
1980s: Grappling with the disciplines
1990s: New life