In 1986, Whitwell and Duncan purchased a house at 2219 Scenic Drive, renovated it and turned it into a spacious, comfortable, conveniently-located facility — the new home of Gwinnett Pastoral Counseling Center. The center thrived at the new location, and the staff quickly grew to nine.
Prior to this time, Whitwell and Duncan had worked at Wesley Woods Geriatric Center in Atlanta, fulfilling a GAPC contract to operate the Department of Pastoral Care and Counseling. Whitwell had served there since 1973 in several capacities, including directing the pastoral care program and supervising students in the Clinical Pastoral Education program (which has now been discontinued). In 1980, he developed and implemented the counseling center at Wesley Woods, an affiliate center of GAPC.
About this time, Whitwell invited Duncan to join him and serve as the chaplain for the Wesley Woods hospice program. In time, Duncan was named Director of Pastoral Care at the new Wesley Woods Geriatric Hospital.
In 1991, when Wesley Woods did not renew the GAPC contract, the opportunity came for Whitwell and Duncan to take a step toward their dream of establishing a free-standing counseling center with its own board of directors. This new independence would allow them to focus more on the needs of the surrounding community; to give community residents, through the board of directors, more power to influence the center’s direction; and to develop a multi-level program of service and training.
The dream became reality in June of 1992, when Covenant Counseling was founded and incorporated by Whitwell and Duncan. The Center’s application for tax exempt status was approved in October 1993.
Whitwell and Duncan’s vision for the Institute was to build several levels of training, counseling and pastoral care to form a multi-faceted ministry. This has taken shape quickly.
In 1992, Covenant Counseling was accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) to offer both Basic and Advanced CPE, which is available to students at several area healthcare and hospice organizations.
Today the roots that sprouted in that old trailer are not only firmly in place, but they’ve also blossomed into a full-service counseling and education center that never loses sight of its mission: to foster healing and wholeness in persons and organizations of the community by extending the mission of the Church through pastoral counseling and psychotherapy, education and consultation.