“CPE has opened my mind, my heart, my spirit. It has opened doors for me.” 

-George Scott

The return of a beloved CPE alum! George Scott, Academy Chaplain of Punahou, again offers up his story to champion our program! While he initially applied to ten to fifteen programs, magic called him to the islands. There is something very spiritual and predestined about his journey as he expands on his feature in the Winter 2020 newsletter offerings.



Why did you enroll in CPE? 

It began in Detroit when members of my congregation asked me to visit their friends who were sick. The elders I grew up with were Sunday School teachers. I would go to their homes and chat with them, talk story, say a prayer, and read the bible. While it began as a casual thing, I would close my real estate office for an hour every Wednesday. However, it came to a point where more folks referred people to me. I eventually wanted to become better at what I did, and someone recommended CPE for formal education.

While I wasn’t officially in ministry, I felt like I was called, which was reaffirmed by others’ belief in me. I was visiting to understand how to minister to people in delicate situations. It was very much a spiritual thing. One day I was on my way to Henry Ford Hospital in the Detroit area, and the thought of studying in Hawaii came to me. Incidentally, one of the chaplains working with me pulled out a booklet and sheet of paper randomly informing me that there was a program in Hawaii which happened to be Pacific Health Ministry (formally Interfaith Ministries of Hawaii).

I applied to twelve or fifteen programs in the United States, said a prayer, and got the first call from John Moody. He was persistent, and we had a long conversation.  From there, it was unbelievable. I came here kicking and screaming in 1989.


What particular program did you participate in? 

I did a year-long residency at PHM from 1989-1990 and was part of the second class of residents.

My first program was at a trauma hospital in Detroit. It was a great experience but also chilling. My first couple of weekends spent there were heavy. I was witnessing so much pain with families distraught over their loved ones. The experience taught me that it was about seeing what I could do to bring peace to the moment.


Did you have any preconceived notions about CPE? 

My director in Detroit was all-in for me going to the CPE program. She encouraged me to move forward because she felt like I had a calling to become a chaplain. I was hesitant to come at first, but people encouraged me and reminded me that it would be a brand-new experience and open up doors for me. In Detroit, the elders I would visit would tell me, “God wants to use you. You are going to do something special.” One person shared with me that they thought God’s intended purpose for my life was on a global scale. At the time, I was working at Ford, so I initially couldn’t imagine the life she saw for me. However, her vision came to pass in ways I couldn’t even imagine.


What was the CPE Program like? 

John Moody picked me up from the airport, and I didn’t know a soul. Of course, I also had to adapt and learn how to pronounce Likelike highway, for instance. Additionally, the CPE program was well established, although they had only had one program before mine. The Queen’s Medical Center was highly receptive to chaplains and the program, which felt nice. They opened up their doors and hearts to us.

We would go to emergencies with the medical staff, and together we provided a level of care that wasn’t accessible beforehand. We were a part of a larger team that was respected, wanted, and needed. I still have friends across the hospitals that I keep in contact with.


What personal discoveries did you have during CPE?

CPE helped me discover my struggle with loss and separation—those areas were my growing edge. I had to be willing to go within to help others through the process of saying their final goodbyes to loved ones. It pushed me in so many directions.

I believe that God keeps presenting things to you until you get it right, and there were different challenges for me to overcome. Sometimes it would be standing with a family at their loved one’s bedside, grappling with the loss. I had to remember not to interject myself in the moment. One of CPE’s greatest gifts is to step outside yourself so you are empathetic and present while recognizing, identifying, and knowing that these feelings are universal. Walk with patients in empathy and leave your history out of this to help them.










Don’t let the patient take care of you, save that for your group share with your peers and work through it there. This lesson ended up being a phenomenal thing that opened more doors for me as I ended up pursuing a doctorate in loss and grief. John Moody also pushed me to say goodbye to those I had worked with, and I said goodbye to a special person thinking nothing of it, only for us to come together late in life as she became my wife. John officiated our wedding. 

Overall, I had a particularly memorable experience with a neurosurgeon. I was on call at 3 AM, and we gathered around the bedside of a woman who had a major aneurysm.  The doctor informed her husband that it was time to let her go, but he struggled with making that choice. In response, the physician said words I would never forget, “you are not making that decision. You are following through with what happened. The decision has been made.” That pearl of wisdom has carried me through.


Current Job and CPE impact? 

After serving 25 years in parish ministry as an Associate Minister at Central Union Church, United Church of Christ,  I am currently the Academy Chaplain for Punahou and have been here since 2005. I also coach varsity football and work in the counseling department. It has been an outstanding experience counseling students, faculty, and families around the areas of loss, separation, and grief. Especially considering loss comes in many forms. CPE has opened my mind, my heart, my spirit. It has opened doors for me. I got to teach the first introduction course to CPE at Yale Divinity School. I still hear from my students, all moving forward in life, some of them being ordained. It is a beautiful circle of life. I get to pay it forward and take that journey with students who are just like me.


What would you like others to know about CPE? 

CPE is like holding a mirror up to yourself. It causes me to look at myself when I doubt my pathway or calling. CPE pushes me to re-examine what that is about. It is challenging because you know the answer. You can’t fool yourself. CPE invites you to take a closer look. I wish that upon anyone who takes this adventure in life. It is a challenging journey, but it is worth it. You will grow if you allow it to happen. An awakening occurs, and you have to be open to receive it, know it, and identify it. Thirty years after my residency, I continue to process what has happened because it boils down to the truth. The truth of life and all it entails.


Life during Covid?

The pandemic has pushed us to recognize the blessing in every moment. We talk about life being delicate, the importance of being grateful, and finding the blessing. When my daughter got sick, I was hit with this reality.  I now light a candle nightly to recognize the blessing of each breath. Take things one day at a time, enjoy life.

During Covid, it was also exciting to collect masks, and I have lost quite a few. However, I sent the masks I was gifted to family across the states. It became a collaborative and community experience. I send them away and try to do my part to make sure everyone has one.

Additionally, me and my family have kept busy watching detective shows.