Dr. Wayne OatesAn intellectual leader in pastoral care and the psychology of religion for four decades, Wayne Oates wrote 53 books and more than 250 articles, making a significant contribution to the field of spiritual care training. Most of this intellectual property is owned and housed at the Oates Institute. Oates developed one of the world’s best known and well respected departments of Psychology of Religions at the Southern Baptist Seminary and taught there until leaving for a short tenure at Wake Forest University. He retired after ten years of teaching and consulting at the University of Louisville Medical School.

In 1993 the Oates Institute was created by the friends of Wayne E. Oates to provide continuing education for pastoral and spiritual care givers. Knowledge experts drawn from across the pastoral care and counseling academic and clinical spectrums provided cutting edge academic and clinical insights in these very successful conferences.

“As a collaborative learning community, we are free to decide our own destiny; to choose our own direction; to express our own thoughts; to work in our own way; and to put into action what we perceive as God’s destiny for us.” - Wayne E. Oates

After several years of providing these kinds of face-to-face workshops, the board decided to launch a distance learning format. Led by Executive Director Dr. Vicki Hollon and Dr. Chris Hammon, technical and program director, the Oates Institute blazed a trail into collaboration-focused distance learning. Since then, professionals from around the world have participated as presenters, facilitators, and learners in a wide array of educational and training activities.

Outstanding leaders from a variety of professions comprised the original board of directors, most of whom have continued to provide support throughout the years. Elaine and Bert Akin; Alberta Allen; Dr. Henlee Barnette; Barbara and Howard Butt, Jr.; Dr. Hardy Clemons; Evelyn Gordinier; Dr. Ted Hodge; Drs. Leslie and Vicki Hollon; Dr. James Hyde; Dr. Walter Jackson; Kay Keegan; Dr. Roy and Lynn Meckler; Eleanor Miller; Anne Ogden; Dr. John Patterson; James Pollard; Dr. Chester Raber; Ellie Schaffer; Norris and Jan Shockley; Dr. Jack and Carolyn Turner; Martha Wiglesworth; and Dr. Jan Yusk.

Under Dr. Hammon’s directorship, the Institute expanded its membership into 15 countries and 47 states in the U.S. His vision and passion for providing the highest quality learning experiences began to move the Institute into the post-modern era.

In 1989, the organization began awarding the Wayne E. Oates Award which recognizes someone who has given of themselves and made a significant impact on the world of spiritual or pastoral care.

Unfortunately, in May 2014, Chris Hammon lost his battle with cancer.

In the wake of this loss, with input from the membership, the Oates Institute Board of Directors decided to embrace the many challenges and to move the Institute into a new era. To that end, they worked to fine-tune a new vision and mission, create a new website, develop an engaging marketing strategy, and design a leadership succession plan while launching new program offerings.

Our future

As can be seen by the vision, mission, goals, and values, the Institute is focusing on diversification, innovation, and growth. Engaging younger spiritual caregivers from different perspectives, faith orientations, and personal and professional involvements is a high priority. Heritage is essential in grounding any non-profit organization. The Oates tradition of sound academic research, integration of a variety of perspectives, and inter-professional collaboration has provided us with a firm foundation. The challenge for the future is to anticipate the post-modern trends for education, training, and spirituality and to find meaningful ways to co-create with our communities the most innovative and informative learning and training experiences on the Web.

We invite you to join this journey by becoming a clinical or congregational member – or through your financial support.