Director says upgrades about ‘hope and possibility’
By ALLISON KENNEDY
A prayer garden, new offices, a chapel and an outdoor labyrinth are part of the remodeling of the Pastoral Institute grounds, which will be dedicated and officially opened Tuesday.
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A ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. The campus covers 3 acres on 15th Avenue.
In addition, the institute is celebrating its 35th year. The Rev. Ron King, Ph.D., has directed the institute for 22 years.
“It’s not about the buildings, but it’s about hope and possibility and about how people can be served,” King said. “We are about providing hope as well as help, which people need in these stress-filled days.”
In two phases, the campus upgrade has taken two and a half years. A community-wide capital campaign of $14.1 million provided funding. About half that goes into an endowment that will allow programs to continue.
Accredited by the Samaritan Institute, the Pastoral Institute offers counseling by licensed and/or certified professionals who represent various disciplines including psychology, clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling and psychiatry. The mission of the Samaritan Institute, based in Denver, is “to help affiliated Centers provide team-oriented, cost-efficient counseling, education and consultation which emphasize the interrelatedness of mind, body, spirit, and community,” according to its Web site.
All staff members participate in clinical consultation and supervision as required by their professional organizations and the Samaritan Institute.
The 35,000 square feet of space includes the Counseling Center; Pastoral Counselor Training program; the Sarah T. Butler Children’s Center and the Turner Ministry Resource Center; Business Resource Center; Center for Servant Leadership; Right from the Start; and development and administration offices.
The Prayer Garden has a paved walkway, labyrinth and main garden with a 12-foot fountain featuring children climbing a mountain.
Stained glass windows are placed throughout the buildings.
The new buildings are designed to be environmentally responsible and sustainable through material selections, enhanced building insulations and use of geothermal heating and cooling systems. “We worked to make it as green as possible,” King said.
A new chapel is in the spot of the former “round room,” a meeting area. In 1985, the Rev. Charlie Roper, then the rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, envisioned a chapel there, King said.
Established in July 1974, the Pastoral Institute was founded by four men: Richard Robertson, pastoral counselor; Herschel Allen, pastoral counselor; George Zubowicz, medical director of The Bradley Center; and Bill Turner, a Columbus businessman, philanthropic leader and former chairman of the institute board. They believed the Pastoral Institute would be “a refuge of healing, clarity and inspiration for those who come seeking help with difficult life experiences,” according to its Web site. Originally located in two donated offices in the old downtown YMCA, the Pastoral Institute opened its doors for the first time in October of 1974.
In 1979, the services of counseling, consulting and education were expanded to include an Employee Assistance Program. In 1984, the 10-year anniversary came with relocation to 15th Avenue. In 1989, offices were added in Lanett, Ala. The Pastoral Institute has approximately 60 staff in two locations: the main office in Columbus and the satellite office in Valley, Ala.
The Rev. Jimmy Elder, D.Min., of First Baptist Church will bless the new campus Tuesday. Other phases of the project were blessed by the Rev. Chuck Hasty of First Presbyterian and the Rev. Mike Ricker, the former pastor of Wynnton United Methodist. These three churches were key in the founding of the Pastoral Institute.