By Emily Holladay
George Pickle, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship chaplaincy and pastoral counseling specialist, announced he will retire effective June 30 after 12 years of service to CBF-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors.
“I have been thoroughly blessed by my relationship with endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors,” Pickle said. “They are the presence of Christ in the world. I thank God for calling, gifting and guiding them to their ministries. It has been my privilege to serve in this ministry.”
The Texas native joined the CBF staff in 2001 as CBF chaplaincy and pastoral counseling endorser, after serving as the endorser for hospital, hospice and pastoral counseling at the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. Prior to becoming an endorser, Pickle spent seven years as a chaplain at the Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, Calif.
Under his leadership, the Fellowship doubled the number of endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors, created a structure for the Council on Endorsement and secured a seat for the chair of the council on the CBF Coordinating Council.
In addition, Pickle has been an active member of the Council on Ministry in Specialized Settings (COMISS Network) since 1992. This network includes certification and accreditation organizations, 16 faith group endorsers, pastoral care organizations and the National VA Chaplaincy Center. In 2003, he was awarded the COMISS Network Medal, whose previous recipients include Erik Erikson and Henri Nouwen.
“George Pickle has served our Fellowship well,” said Bo Prosser, CBF coordinator for missional congregations. “Under his leadership, we have gained credibility with the multiple agencies across the chaplaincy and pastoral counseling landscape. Through his influence, we have endorsed hundreds who relate to their professional field through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship designation. We will miss his devotion to this special group of ministers. We are blessed by his continuing friendship and commitment to our work.”
In addition to his ministry as a chaplain and chaplain endorser, Pickle has served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Santa Monica, Calif., and campus minister for the Progress Baptist Convention and the University of Southern California.
Since 1999, Pickle has served with the Endorsers Conference for Veterans Affairs Chaplains as a presenter at their orientation. He also has served as a representative of endorsers on the Certification Committee of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors since 2005 and a member of the Association of Religious Endorsing Bodies since 2000.
After retirement from CBF, Pickle will continue his private counseling practice, where he specializes in grief counseling.
Prosser says a job profile will be developed and a search committee named in the coming days.
“We hope to have a restructuring of the job assignments and a new person in place by early fall,” he said.