1980s: Grappling with the disciplines

1982: Frank Lake had just died. Was this the moment for the Clinical Theology Association to cease trading? With a large overdraft at the bank, the Council at the time thought so. The membership, however, thought differently!

I was subsequently appointed as the only paid officer with the help of my wife, Patricia. Our immediate tasks were selling `Lingdale', the CTA base in Nottingham, to repay some of the debts; to establish an office with the minimum of overheads to service the membership, which we did from our own home; and to promote the seminar programme and resource the tutors.

(Some of this story is told in Frank Lake: The Man and his Work by John Peters, Darton, Longman and Todd, 1989. Although this is not the comprehensive biography of Frank, which yet deserves to be written, this book does tell the story of the early years of the CTA.)

Among my convictions, at the time of my appointment and largely undiminished, about voluntary organisations were: (1) the voluntary principle can be applied to a national network; (2) people relate to people rather than to an organisation; and (3) any network needs a co-ordinating Centre. In the perception of members and the wider world of the Church and society, these convictions were embodied in St Mary's House as the successor to Lingdale.

“Frank Lake's work was a unique contribution to the pastoral ministry of the Church”

As regards the discipline of Clinical Theology and its practice, there is no doubt (and happily, many others agree), that Frank Lake's work was a unique contribution to the pastoral ministry of the Church in the 20th century and remains so in the 21st. What is vital, therefore, is that we continue to grapple conceptually and practically at the interface between theology and tradition, and psychology and the human sciences. Frank Lake described this as the correlation of `the biblical material concerning Christ and of the Church's witness to Christ on the one hand, with the sum of our knowledge of human personality growth and development and the disorders that affect them on the other' [Clinical Theology abr. Martin Yeomans, Darton, Longman and Todd, 1986, p.29]. Clinical Theology practitioners are not true to themselves if they become seduced by the siren voices of `listening', even if `at depth', or `counselling' in one of its many forms.

Peter van de Kasteele

Read more about the history of BPF:
1960s: Gaining acceptance
1970s: Grappling with the disciplines
1990s: New life