Rev. William Gaventa Awarded COMISS Medal (NJ UCEDD)

February 1, 2008

Rev. William Gaventa (NJ UCEDD)
Rev. William Gaventa (NJ UCEDD)

New Brunswick-The COMISS Network

The Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings has awarded the Rev. William (Bill) C. Gaventa, the prestigious COMISS Medal for his significant contribution to pastoral care during thirty years of ministry in developmental disability. Rev. Gaventa is associate professor of pediatrics, and director of Community and Congregational Supports at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Pediatrics at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The honor recognizes Rev. Gaventa's length and depth of contribution in this specialized field and his focus on community and congregation. His creativity in taking Clinical Pastoral Education "outside the walls of the hospital" and into community agencies such as The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, was specifically noted by the selection committee.

The COMISS Network is a national network on ministry with organizational membership representing pastoral care and counseling in virtually all specialized settings. The COMISS Medal is the organization's highest honor and Rev. Gaventa is only the fifth recipient of the award since its inception in 1988.

The COMISS medal is presented to Rev. Gaventa
The COMISS medal is presented to Rev. Gaventa

Rev. Gaventa, a minister of the American Baptist Church, served on the Coordinating Council for COMISS' Dialogue '88, a conference in Minneapolis in 1988 of several thousand pastoral care and counseling professionals, and he was treasurer of the Coordinating Council for Dialogue '94 meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since its founding, Rev. Gaventa has been a representative to COMISS Network from the Religion and Spirituality Division of the American Association of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) (formerly AAMR).

In his role at The Boggs Center, Rev. Gaventa works on community supports, training for community services staff and workforce development, initiatives in cultural competence, aging/end of life issues, supervision of a program in Clinical Pastoral Education, and inclusive congregational supports. He also coordinates a training and technical assistance team for the New Jersey Self-Directed Supports Projects.

Before coming to New Jersey, he was coordinator of Family Support for the Georgia Developmental Disabilities Council. He moved to Georgia from New York, where he served as chaplain and coordinator of Religious Services for the Monroe Developmental Center. He is a graduate of Stetson University in Florida and Union Theological Seminary, New York City. In volunteer roles, Rev. Gaventa has served as executive secretary for the Religion and Spirituality Division of the AAIDD since 1985. He has received both the Service Award and a Presidential Award from the AAIDD.

Rev. Gaventa is editor of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health, editor of two newsletters, and a columnist for Insight, the national newsletter of the ArcUSA. He also has authored journal articles, book chapters, monographs, resource collections, booklets, and four edited books.

Rev. Gaventa lives in Belle Mead, NJ, with his wife, Beverly, a professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. His son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Sarah, live in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Access the COMISS Network's original press release here.