History and Mission Oregon
History and Mission Print

In February of 1977, clergy and laity from First United Methodist Church, First Congregational Church, and St. Mary's Parish in Corvallis met. The clergy were experiencing a heavy demand for counseling by their parishioners, and frequently felt pushed to the limits of their counseling expertise. Clergy and laity alike were distressed by the lack of clinically serious counseling practitioners in the community who were also trained in and sensitive to the religious dynamics in people's lives. They invited Jack Hall, a Diplomate in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, to come to Corvallis from Portland one day per week to assist them with the clinical demands of their ministries. St. Mary's Parish provided an office in which Jack was to begin offering pastoral counseling services. The demand for his services far exceeded earliest expectations and as a result, Rev. Hall moved to Corvallis and The Corvallis Pastoral Counseling Center was incorporated in June of that same year.

Beginning in 1977, the Center led a very low-profile existence dedicated primarily to serving its sponsor churches. Its relevance to the lives of sponsor churches became evident in its steady increase in hours of client delivery as well as in sponsor church constituency. Another phenomenon became increasingly apparent. While the Center had been conceived originally as a resource for sponsor churches, an increasing number of people who had no relationship to sponsor churches - to any church at all, for that matter - began to use its services.

With time, usage by the community-at-large grew to nearly eighty percent of our total service delivery. In spring of 1987, we undertook the task of becoming more articulate, deliberate and effective about that emerging aspect of our identity as a human service agency. We believed it would be possible to maintain our unique roots as a ministry by and for our sponsor churches, while establishing ourselves as a clinically serious and responsible member of the human service network in the mid-valley.

First, we created four public positions on our board of directors in order to demonstrate our willingness to be more publicly accessible and accountable . Then, for the first time in the Center's history, we hired non-ordained clinical staff who were licensed or accredited by their own respective professional associations. In so doing, we modeled in staff composition our commitment to religious values as well as to the clinical standards of the modern psychotherapeutic sciences. Finally, we sought and received public funds to serve the public clients we were in fact, already serving. The United Ways in Linn and Benton Counties havebeen helpful in this project in at least two ways. First, they have recognized the terrible unmet need for mental health resources which exists in our communities and taken significant financial responsibility for the community-care which we have been performing. Second, the endorsement of the United Ways in Linn and Benton Counties has helped us establish an even more publicly-accessible identity. People know and trust that United Way would not be involved in a sectarian activity.

The accomplishments of PCC as a public ministry are impressive. We have achieved a trusted and respected status in the network of human service agencies in the mid-valley. This is evidenced by the significant number of referrals we are receiving from the state and county health agencies and other providers in the mid-valley human service community. We were Accredited as a Service Center of the American Association of Pastoral Counselorsin 1989 and are currently undergoing our periodic re-accreditation process. Our Sponsor Church membership has nearly tripled to nineteen churches. We are delivering client services at a rate nearly five times greater than thirteen years ago. Client satisfaction is evidenced in the facts that former clients are our single greatest referral source, and that nine out of every ten clients responding to our satisfaction surveys found their counselors to be helpful.We have opened new offices in Albany and Lebanon. We have been accepted as a Linn County United Way Agency. We have achieved a degree of financial responsibility and stability unseen in our prior history. Most recently, we have begun an exciting new play-therapy program for children in both Linn and Benton counties, and implemented a formal internship program for master's and doctoral level students.

There is a truly remarkable diversity of support which has kept PCC alive and well over the past twenty-three years. Within the Church community alone, we have eight denominations and nineteen congregations actively involved in the ministry of PCC. This is a remarkable ecumenical effort in and of itself. In addition, we have public support in the form of the county United Ways, public directors, various service clubs and many individual volunteers and supporters. Corporate support has been equally diverse in the forms of Hewlett-Packard, Software Support Service, CH2M-Hill, Evanite and others. We are an amazing cooperative effort of many diverse interests devoted to making the emotionally, spiritually and socially healing resources which exist in our world available to anyone who is in need of them.