Preview of Dick B. Christian Recovery Radio Interview Tuesday, June 20, of Christian Recovery Leader Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., Professor at Penn State and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Leader in Pittsburgh Pastoral and Chemical Dependency Recovery Outreach, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Our guest is Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a Christian Recovery Leader and Interim Chairperson of our International Christian Recovery Coalition. In addition, she holds these posts: Director, The Oasis Recovery Center of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, PA: http://oasisrecoverycenter.org; Assistant Professor, Counselor Education—Chemical Dependency, The Pennsylvania State University; and Adjunct Professor, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She has just assumed a new post involving CLEAR—an outreach program she will explain briefly today. Karen is also Curator of our Shoemaker Room Collection at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh.
Karen is an experienced fire ball when it comes to organizing, coordinating, and leading pastoral, governmental, Christian, and chemical dependency conferences and councils. I first met her in the offices of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation several years ago. I could see that she had an intense interest in and knowledge of the biblical roots of Alcoholics Anonymous and the particular role played by Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. In the days since the founding of A.A., Shoemaker had become less and less known in the recovery arena despite his towering books, sermons, articles, pamphlets, and his former connection as the chief American lieutenant of the Oxford Group when it held offices in his Calvary House at Calvary Church in New York. Shoemaker had an immense influence on A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson and the elements of his Big Book and Twelve Steps. In fact, Bill Wilson had once asked Shoemaker to write the Twelve Steps, and Sam declined in Wilson’s favor.
Once we became acquainted, Karen helped me immensely in my research of Shoemaker’s role in Pennsylvania, in the Pittsburgh Experiment, with the so-called “golf club crowd,” with Calvary Church, and with prayer groups. Karen introduced me to Christian and church leaders in Pittsburgh. She organized a Bill W.-Sam Shoemaker Night at a well-known restaurant with me as keynote speaker. She convened several area-wide recovery conferences where I was one of the speakers. She even used to have me converse with her Penn State students and classes in chemical dependency and counseling both by phone and in person. She was also instrumental in obtaining the funding for a thorough investigation by my son and myself of the Episcopal Church Archives in Austin, Texas, and the huge collection of Sam Shoemaker papers there. This enabled the writing of a second edition of my book on Shoemaker, New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. (www.dickb.com/newlight.shtml) where I published that large study of every aspect of Shoemaker’s friendship with Bill Wilson, his role in the Big Book and 12 Steps preparation, his books and articles on A.A., his speeches at two International Conventions of A.A., and his extensive writings which laid out the Oxford Group principles and practices where underlie the meat of Bill Wilson’s 1939 publication of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Karen is one of those national Christian leaders who thoroughly grasped, applied, and taught about the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the origins, history, founding, original program, and astonishing successes of early A.A. and the application of those roles in recovery today.
She will tell us briefly about her work in education, in Christian recovery, in community centers and programs, with clergy, and with government and social leaders involved in alcoholism and addiction recovery. We hope to hear a bit about her new CLEAR program, her present work, and her future plans to move the Christian Recovery Movement forward.