Master of Chaplaincy Studies
By Michael Barth
This course in Chaplaincy Studies was very good and well written. This course helped me learn that being a chaplain is not easy. A chaplain has to know a lot and also be available even if he or she is not at the chapel or office.
I realize now that chaplains need to be versed in other faiths besides there own. I know that I will have to learn more about other faiths to be a good chaplain. I do know some things about other faiths because of taking other classes through the ULC Seminary but I will expand my knowledge so I can be better versed in other faiths. So, I will have to keep studying other faiths as part of my program in becoming an ULC chaplain.
Another thing I did not realize prior to taking this course was some skill level of the person who would like to be a chaplain. Such skills include listening, eye contact, body posture, gestures, voice, and observation. A good chaplain will also respond by being objective and avoid judgment and expressions of disgust or disapproval. Also, the chaplain should be faithful, of good character, of good testimony, sound in doctrine, and able to teach. I think I had some notion of this about a chaplain but did not realize this until I took this course.
One thing I did not consider until I took this course is to know my limitations on what I can do. I need to know the areas where I can help people the most. I am really good with people with addictions because I have overcome my own addictions. Also, I have helped people make it through life's general problems but I have no experience in grief counseling. So I will have to keep my limitations in mind in order to help the right people. If someone comes to me and I cannot help them, I must be able to tell them that and refer them to someone who can help them. Also, another thing I need to be careful of is not to burn out. I need to make sure that I take time for myself in order to eat, sleep, and relax. The course does point out that burn out was big after Hurricane Rita.
Ceremonies was another great lesson in this course. I had always thought that a local clergy person did the ceremonies such as the Fourth of July, Veterans' Day, Memorial Day, and so on. I did not realize that chaplains could also serve this function too. In the military, it could be a change of command or a wedding between military personnel. Other type of ceremonies could be retirement parties or anniversaries too. So the numbers of ceremonies could go on and on.
Also, this course was very good at pointing at some basic things. Some of the basic things this course pointed out was having a cell phone or pager so people can be in contact with you if an emergency should arise. Another thing is having a kit that would include such things as a Bible, some scratch paper, business cards, a calendar, and other such things. I did not consider these things before taking this course. Also, having the right clothes as a chaplain is important to look professional. This is something that I will have to obtain along with business cards.
I did not realize that there were so many places that a chaplain could work at. I did know hospitals, jails, prisons, and the military had chaplains but did not know that there were chaplains at truck stops, airports, apartment complexes, shopping malls, school campuses, nursing homes, and at some businesses. I did not know chaplains worked at all these places. Learning this was really helpful since it gives me a great deal of places to chaplain at.
I also learned that chaplains go back to the Romans. The Romans would have priests who would carry out religious functions for the military. This was new to me. I had thought previously to taking this course that chaplains were of a more recent development. The Druids had chaplains too for their military. The oldest form of chaplains goes back with the military. I found this history fascinating too and was well worth reading and learning. In American history, chaplains go back to the Revolutionary War when the Continental Congress authorized chaplains.
Another thing that I learned was that a lot of these places have requirements for being a chaplain. I did not realize this. I just thought that being a chaplain from a place of worship was good enough. Some places of educational requirements like education through Clinical Pastoral Education and a Master of Divinity along with age requirements. Also, some places require that you belong to the professional organization for chaplains.
I also learned that when you do have a chaplaincy program going, you also need to learn about where you are doing it. For example, if you are a chaplain at a hospital or prison, you need to know the rules of where you are doing it at. Also you may need to study its' history, formal organization, and the tradition and unspoken customs. Also, when you start a chaplaincy program, you need to develop relationships, follow the rules, be consistent, and be available to people.
This course was well written. It covered a lot of the basics for being a chaplain. It also had a lot of resources that I went and looked up on the internet just for further research for my only knowledge. I think this course could go into more detail about some of the topics that it covered, but I would otherwise not change anything to the course. The author did know his subject material and seems to have been a chaplain for a long time which showed throughout this course.
As a result of this course, I will study other religions further by taking other courses through the ULC Seminary and by reading other books that deal with other faiths. Also, once I feel comfortable with my knowledge, I will start being a chaplain somewhere like the local hospital here. Also, I need to learn how to do different types of ceremonies too. One of the biggest things I learned in this course was the chaplains have to be well versed in other faiths and also have to be well versed in doing different types of ceremonies for people.
I would definitely recommend this to other ULC ministers. This course will definitely broaden your scope, especially if you are considering becoming a chaplain. I would also recommend to other ULC ministers to do the Chaplaincy Program through the ULC Seminary.
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