Training Faith Based Caregivers

Mobilizing Pastoral Care Throughout Northwest Iowa

What is Ecumenical Institute?

Ecumenical Institute (EI) was started in 1968 and has operated as a charitable organization since 1993. Its goal is to mobilize pastoral care for the residents of Northwest Iowa. Ecumenical Institute’s vision is to provide care for humans in all conditions of life and offer spiritual training to those who assist in that care.

Ecumenical Institute mobilizes pastoral care throughout Northwest Iowa by:

  • Providing Certified Pastoral Education (CPE) to individuals committed to Northwest Iowa through classes, workshops, and seminars.
  • Mobilizing pastoral care by networking together with leaders from congregations, civic organizations, businesses, and community service providers.
  • Empowering pastoral caregivers to “pass it on” within their own spheres of influence, from congregations to the workplace to the community a large.

Our Mission

“To provide quality pastoral education through an accredited training center by certified personnel on an ecumenical, non-discriminatory basis in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and to provide these services primarily on behalf of the people of Northwest Iowa. Special concern is directed to meeting the needs of rural communities and to serving as a public trust in all matters related to the financial support of these educational services.”

Iowa Ministry Locations

Alta, Alton, Ashton, Boone, Carroll, Castana, Cherokee, Danbury, Decorah, Deloit, Des Moines, Dubuque, Early, Estherville, Everly, Fonda, Fort Dodge, Harlan, Holstein, Hull, Ida Grove, Larrabee, Le Mars, Manning, Marcus, Marshalltown, Merrill, Milford, Moville, Newton, Odebolt, Okoboji, Orange City, Pocahontas, Postville, Renwick, Royal, Sac City, Sheldon, Sibley, Sioux Center, Sioux City, Somers, Spencer, Storm Lake, Sutherland, Tabor, Treynor, Wall Lake, Washta, Williamsburg

Calendar & Meetings

Check out what’s happening!

Class Schedule
  • CPE Zoom classes meet at various times Monday – Thursday.
  • Fall through Spring units available along with Summer units.
  • Total hours of 120 zoom hours and 280 hours of clinical time.

The extended unit meets every other week for a reflection on the student’s ministry in a peer group of 4 – 7 individuals. Students are asked to interact in the systems that make up the community in which they live.

The elements of a unit of CPE may include:

  • Devotions – Each student, along with the supervisor, will share in a time of opening devotions.
  • Verbatims – These are the core of each day’s class time which are scheduled at the beginning of the unit.
  • Learning Covenant – Within the first four weeks, each student is asked to present his/her learning goals for the unit.
  • Critical Incidents – The student will present several critical incident.
  • Interpersonal relationship seminars – These seminars are an opportunity to stop and ask the question: “How are we doing as a group?”
  • Weekly reflection or journal – A consistent reflection by the student about what he/she is learning about themselves in the process of pastoral care.
  • Care Study – Advanced students may be asked to prepare an in-depth case study.
  • Sermon – During the unit, the student may substitute a sermon for a verbatim.
  • Didactic – The supervisor or guest speaker will present a minimum of five didactics.
  • Individual Supervision – Each student will have one-on-one consultation with the supervisor.
Board Meetings

Meetings are held quaterly
Usually held January, April, July & October

Please check with Rev. Roger Cauthon at for more information.

Area Trainings

Keep watching for future trainings to be held in the area.

Monthly Calendars
  • Board Meeting
  • CPE Class Ends
  • Alumni Reunion
  • Board Meeting
  • Applications Received for Enrollment
  • Interviews for Fall Admission
  • Board Meeting
  • Fall CPE Class starts
  • Board Retreat, Okoboji
  • Board Meeting

What People Have to Say

  • “My experience with Ecumenical Institute was truly a “God thing”. CPE came at a difficult time in my life, but I’m convinced God intended it that way.  My life was certainly changed because of CPE.”

    Former Student
  • “Thank goodness or should I say thank GOD the Ecumenical Institute has long distance learning.  There is so few CPE training centers and most offer in person training, which is difficult when you work full-time, and have to take time off and drive hundreds of miles to attend.  Thank you EI, my experience was enlightening and life changing.”

    Former Student
  • “In the fall of 1978, I met Fr. Gene Sitzmann and Reverend Alexander while I was just out of seminary.  They were providing CPE training at Cherokee Mental Health Institute. Today, board certified is the gold standard for a professional chaplain and best practice healthcare.  A few years ago, I decided to become a Board Certified Chaplain.  Imagine by joy and delight in reconnecting with Fr. Gene Sitzmann after all these years-to hear his voice, his love and experience his passion.  What a gift to discover that Gene continues to be involved with and an advocate for EI.  With deep gratitude I wish Gene and all of you at the Ecumenical Institute the very best in the difference you are making as you participate with God in what God is doing for the sake of the world!”

    Former Student
  • “While I only need four units of CPE for my Ceritification in ACPE, the lessons I learned and the growth I experienced was so valuable that I would definitely consider taking additional units at the Ecumenical Institute.”

    Former Student
  • “CPE helped me form a greater understanding of pastoral care.  If we are going to care for others, we must not be afraid to come close to people and open our hearts.”

    Former Student
  • “CPE at the Ecumenical Institute is unlike any other class or program I have ever attended. I was provided the tools and the space to explore who I am and where God is leading me. Additionally, Roger fostered a rich chemistry of diverse perspectives in our cohort, allowing us to support and learn from one another.  As a direct outcome of my experience at the Ecumenical Institute, I recently enrolled in seminary. I have shared my story with other students who are seeking a distance learning CPE program. I have been asked if I would enroll in additional units of CPE at the Ecumenical Institute after I complete seminary. Absolutely! While I am still discerning my call into ministry, I had such a positive CPE experience at the Ecumenical Institute, I would not only recommend the program to others, I would also continue my education in CPE at the Ecumenical Institute following my graduation from seminary.”

    Former Student

Staff & Board of Directors

Get in Contact With Us!

Board Members



Retired Banker

Retired Surgeon

Associate in Ministry

Funeral Director

ACPE Certified Educator

Community Leader

Retired Family Physician

  • Jerry Van Es

ACPE Certified Educator

  • Tania Hammer-Luken


  • Richard Moore

VP Avera Missions

  • LuAnn Trutwin


  • David Grindberg

Board Member

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