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Pendle Hill – A Beacon Lighting the Way: A Conversation with Lola Georg

Lola GeorgAfter several years working as Pendle Hill’s Director of Finance & Human Resources, Lola Georg has made the difficult yet heartfelt decision to follow her spiritual calling and begin her work as a Pastoral Care counselor. Below is a short interview with Lola about her time spent here, and what’s next in her life:

PH: I understand you’ll be leaving Pendle Hill. Can you tell us why?
LG: Well, it’s certainly something I have given a lot of thought. Back in 2001, after September 11th, I felt a strong calling to go to graduate school and obtain a master’s degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling. I graduated in 2005, and over the last 10 years, I have been volunteering as a licensed professional counselor for people who cannot afford traditional therapy fees. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to switch careers from finance to counseling, and this seems like the right time.

PH: Can you tell us a little more about this career change?
LG: Sure. I’ve been working in the financial field for 28 years, mostly with non-profit organizations. I have taken pride in my work, and the work that I have done at Pendle Hill. I think one of the things that has contributed to my success is that I have strong business acumen coupled with an understanding of human relationships and dynamics. However, recently I have noticed that the calling to shift to counseling full-time has become stronger and stronger. In my 10 years as a counselor, I have worked with individuals, couples and families with a variety of issues, and I love working with teenagers! Not many people are excited by working with adolescents. I also have experience with transgendered folks, and I see a growing need for counselors with my skills.

PH: How do you feel about leaving Pendle Hill at this time?
LG: Nervous. Grateful. Excited. Hopeful. I am nervous because I will be starting my own private practice and there is risk involved in that. I am grateful because I have a supportive spouse, Viv Hawkins, who will help me as I make this career transition. Somehow, it seems easier making this change with the support of my loved ones. I am excited about everything that is happening right now at Pendle Hill. The Ending Mass Incarceration conference and the new Answering the Call to Radical Faithfulness program are drawing people to Pendle Hill, this most special of places. I am very excited about this new chapter in my life’s journey. I am also hopeful that I can be of help to others as a counselor, and more specifically, a pastoral counselor.

PH: You mentioned that Pendle Hill is a special place. Can you tell us more about that?
LG: Sure. Pendle Hill has always held a special place in my heart. For me, Pendle Hill is one of those places on the planet where the veil between the spiritual realm and the material realm is very thin, enabling the spirit to nudge us in new ways. I echo the sentiments of countless others who have come to Pendle Hill for the beautiful grounds, the warm hospitality, the excellent and nourishing food, and the opportunity to find that still, quiet voice in that still, quiet place inside. Pendle Hill is precious.

PH: Can you tell us the difference between a counselor and a pastoral counselor? You seemed to indicate there was a difference.
LG: Well there is and there isn’t. As a counselor I am trained and experienced in helping folks with the problems they encounter. I believe in a strength-based approach, which means that people have inherent strengths. In my experience, most people come to counseling because they have a problem they can’t seem to tackle. One of the goals of the counselor, in my opinion, is to help the client leverage their inherent strengths in tackling the problem. Pastoral counseling means that the spiritual realm is included in the process – the spirit in relation to the client, the spirit in relation to the counselor, and the spirit as it manifests in their relationship. Many people in the mental health field today dismiss the spiritual realm. As a pastoral counselor, I seek to embrace it.

PH: You’ve been at Pendle Hill for several years now. What will you take with you?
LG: Wow. That’s a good question. What I will remember most from my time at Pendle Hill is hospitality. I have met so many people at Pendle Hill, from so many walks of life, and from so many places around the world. I have welcomed them, and they have welcomed me. Together, we have built community, if only for an hour, a day, a week, or a few months. I think I will also have fond memories of meeting for worship. To my knowledge, Pendle Hill is the only place where unprogrammed meeting for worship in the manner of Friends has happened every day for 85 years. In my experience, the spirit is attuned to that and shows up in the Barn on a regular basis. Perhaps that is what I will miss the most.

PH: Well, thank you for your time today. Do you have any final thoughts?
LG: Yes. Yes, I do. I wish Pendle Hill, the Board, the staff, visitors, guests, volunteers, students, everyone – I wish for Pendle Hill another 85 years of being a beacon, lighting the way, for the Religious Society of Friends. That is my wish for Pendle Hill.