Monday, November 29, 2010

Chaplaincy Studies

Lesson #1
Write out a short paragraph or two on what you know of chaplains. Does your faith group or religion have chaplains or not? what is your view of chaplains and their role in society today?

What I know about chaplains:
Chaplains are servants of God who minister to those who are not organized as a parish or congregation of followers. They are called to cater to the spiritual needs of all faiths and must practice tolerance in their service to all God's children.

Chaplains in my faith group:
My own faith group does have chaplains. When I went to Catholic school we had a priest that would come in to counsel and pray with students. Catholics are not the only Christian sect with chaplains. Many of the Christian based faiths send out their ministers to those who cannot regularly attend services or masses at a church.

My view of chaplains and their role in society today:
In this ever evolving world in which we live the role of the chaplain is growing more important everyday. Communities are as diverse as ever and it seems as though many people do not stop moving around. The faithful should never be deprived of their right to spiritual guidance just because they cannot belong to a standard congregation of followers and chaplains fill this role perfectly. The need is especially great in the fire service (of which I am a part), the emergency medical services, and the police departments around the globe. We deal with emergency situations on a regular business and having a chaplain present in the midst of the chaos would ease the minds of many. Sometimes a quick prayer before throwing yourself into a burning structure can make all the difference. No matter how you recognize God, a prayer is always going to be a prayer, and a brief moment of spiritual guidance will always be welcome in the hearts of those who believe.


To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church, as well as an online seminary program and a chaplaincy program.

Chaplaincy Program

Lesson 1

I found the history of the chaplain intriguing. I had no idea that the origin of the title originated with the keeping of sacred relics. In this lesson I also learned about all the places that chaplains serve. One location that really surprised me was truck stops along busy highways. I never thought of a truck stop as a place where religion or spirituality would take hold. It was also interesting to learn about the military history of the chaplain. This shed some light on why the fire service has adopted chaplains into their chain of command. The fire service is a para-military organization and it is only logical that a title found in the military would find its way to firefighting, just like the titles of captain and lieutenant have. All in all this was a wonderful introduction to the field of chaplaincy and I can't wait for the next lesson!



To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church, as well as an online seminary program and a chaplaincy program.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chaplaincy Studies

1.    Describe someone you know who has the Divine Mark.  What set them apart?
I have met such people, one was a cousin, cousin to my mother actually, who was a priest and that was the first person I ever was drawn to in memory.  Another person was a spiritual guide at a point in my life when I was lost; he is now a priest too.  But I must say, when I think of the Divine Mark, the first thing to pop into my mind is the eyes of Savannah, my four legged companion who passed away a decade ago, for that matter all dogs, when I look into their faces I see the Divine.

2.    Has anyone observed the mark in you?  Write down what they have said.

Since I was 6 or 7 I've been told I would grow up to do great things.  When I graduated from High School and announced that I wanted to enter the Catholic Seminary, only my parents were surprised, not being very religious themselves and hoping I'd become a doctor or lawyer.  My cousin, the priest just told me it was a matter of time as he could see from when I first asked him to baptize me.  Later, when I was lost I was steered into joining a religious order as they felt I had something special to give and to this day I am still invited to join various Catholic orders (could be more of a need on their part these days than any recognition of the Divine Mark on myself.)

3.    Consider your calling.  Describe it in a paragraph or two.
I knew I wanted to be a priest when I was 7 or so.  I knew I was called by the time I was in my early teens.  Things were ugly growing up, I usually win the, "My childhood was so bad…" game.  Somewhere in my later teens it occurred to me to barter with God using my calling as leverage.  That didn't work, bur rather did my desire to enter a contemplative religious order and become a priest.

My anger and resentment with God, people and the world led me to many dark places, places where most aren't ever expected to return.  Somehow I surfaced enough to exist but not live, in the twilight between Life and sub-life.  And there I existed until recently.

Recently, I was diagnosed with cancer and have been treated and am in remission.  Through this I've risen enough more to feel and breathe the Light again and the Calling, except this time I'm not being called to a reclusive contemplative religious life, though I would like nothing more, but to one of working with those who feel lost, troubled teens, men and women displaced by our economic times and especially those in hospices and dealing with end of life issues.  The call is clear as day and springs forth from the foundation of my being.

By Rev. Billy Jef


To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church, as well as an online seminary program and a chaplaincy program.

Chaplaincy Course

Steven R. Van Hook, PhD
Concluding Essay
Topic Questions
  • What did you learn?
  • What helped you?
  • What could improve this course?
  • What you hope you will accomplish as a result of taking this course.

Most Valuable Lessons

Some of the most valuable lessons from the chaplaincy program I gained in the very first weeks of study, assessing the duties of the chaplain and the nature of my own calling. These lessons included contrasting the role of the 'chaplain' with the duties of a 'minister.'
The readings described how a minister serves a flock; while a chaplain, by the very origins of the role, serves those in transit – those people transitioning from one state to another, often in times of trial and crisis. This clarification had special appeal to me, as many of my past professional positions have served those in transit, in my work as an educator, crisis counselor, social worker, probation officer, journalist, sailboat skipper …
Many of the traits and skills expected of the chaplain are characteristics I've aspired to and developed over the years, especially in the areas of 'transient' services to others: in often brief encounters, connecting to them where they are, and helping to safely convey them to new ground. 
Academically and professionally, my BA in journalism trained me to get at the heart of people's stories as a working reporter in the US and Eastern Europe coping with transitional economies; my MA in communications taught me how to connect with people in emotional challenge and crisis situations; and my PhD in education showed me how to take them somewhere else while working with young people and international students from developing countries.
What I've admired most about the ULC model is its spirit of inclusion. Some may criticize ULC as the church of 'anything goes' – a one-click ordination, too simple to have merit. Still I'd have chosen ULC even if the criteria were 100-fold more demanding, simply for its openness and inclusion of pan-scopic possibility. Albert Einstein said those who believe everything are right more often than those who believe nothing. I'd carry it further: those who accommodate everything in their belief system are right more often than those who believe any other restrictive doctrine. Truth is infinite in its possibilities and parameters. Doctrine by definition is finite, proscribed, subject to borders and limitations. Anything finite is miniscule compared to the infinite. We limit, subvert, and even pervert infinite truth with finite temporal doctrine.
Along with the above insights gleaned from the chaplaincy studies, the lessons provided essential information on matters including:
·       Background, history and present day trends of the chaplaincy;
·       Personal characteristics of the chaplain and the 'calling';
·       Skills, qualifications and training of the chaplain;
·       The 'chapels' of ministry (military, hospitals, hospice, nursing homes, police departments, prisons, fire departments, emergency situations, business and community, schools, sports and recreation);
·       Issues of trust, confidentiality, and compassion;
·       Active listening skills;
·       The healing touch;
·       Comforting the grieving, counseling the troubled, and avoiding traps;
·       Conducting ceremonies;
·       Developing 'soul friends';
·       Accountability;
·       Personal spiritual care;
·       The 'chaplain's toolbox'

I have copied the chaplaincy lessons into a journal that I will refer to frequently.

What I Hope to Accomplish

I'm close to 100 on-water days away from my Coast Guard license as a seagoing captain. I plan to use my chaplain credentials to marry and bury people at sea on my sailboat out of Channel Islands Harbor in Southern California. I already have researched local regulations that allow for that based on my ULC ordination. I'd be happy to offer free initial services to requests from ULC contacts.

What Can Be Improved

The lessons are really well prepared and insightful. I think the materials may benefit from careful editing for numerous typographical errors that usurp its authority, and other scripture citations beyond the heavily-laced Judeo-Christian quotes (e.g., Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Taoist, etc.), including excerpts from other religions and even scientific perspectives on human relations and our place in all creation.
As astronomer Carl Sagan observed, recent scientific discoveries may be indeed be melding with religious perspectives to create an encompassing vision of universal proportion: "A religion, old or new, that stresses the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."
Author Jeffery Moses in his 2002 book Oneness: Great principles shared by all religions, demonstrates how many of the world's religious belief systems already share fundamental commonality, especially when itemized in the most essential precepts we live by. It may be useful to incorporate some of these scriptural relations in the chaplain lessons:

Golden Rule:

  • "People should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated."
      – Hinduism
  • "Do not do to others what you do not  want done to yourself."
       – Confucius
  • "Practice the truth that thy brother is the same as thou."
      – Buddha
  • "Whatever you would that people should do to you, do so to them."
      – Christianity
  • "No man of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."
      – Islam

Known by Our Deeds:

  • "God will not ask what race you are, but what have you done."
    – Sikhism
  • "God will render to everyone according to their deeds."
       – Christianity
  • "Deeds of love are worth as much as all the commandments of the law."
      – Judaism
  • "An outcaste is an outcaste by deeds. A Brahmin is a Brahmin by deeds."
       – Buddhism
  • "If you derive pleasure from the good you do and grief from the evil you commit, you are a true believer."
      – Islam

Value of Wisdom:

  • "Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind."
      – Islam
  • "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth ... but treasures in heaven."
       – Christianity
  • "Real treasure is laid up through charity and piety."
      – Buddha
  • "How much better is wisdom than gold! Understanding than silver."
      – Judaism
  • "Knowledge is the holiest of the holies, and commands the respect of kings. Shorn of it man is but an animal."
     – Hinduism

Do No Harm:

  • "Whatever good you do for others, you send it before your own soul."
      – Islam
  • "Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving."
       – Christianity
  • "Hurt none by word or deed be consistent in well-doing." – Buddha
  • "Do not hurt others, do no one injury by thought or deed, utter no word to pain thy fellow creatures."
     – Hinduism

Love thy Neighbor:

  • "Obtain a proper rule of action by looking on your neighbor as yourself."
      – Hinduism
  • "Seek to be in harmony with all your neighbors."
       – Confucius
  • "Full of love for all things in the world ... This man alone is happy."
      – Buddha
  • "Love one another, even as I have loved you."
       – Christianity
  • "Regard heaven as your father, Earth as your mother, and all things as your brothers and sisters."
      – Shintoism

Live in Unity:

  • "Human beings are all as head, arms, trunk, and legs to one another."
      – Hinduism
  • "Do not forget the world is one great family."
       – Shintoism
  • "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!"
      – Judaism
  • "God hath made of one blood all nations."
      – Christianity
  • "All creatures are the family of God."
      – Islam

As an ordained minister and chaplain within ULC, I hope to carry a message of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, justice, and universal perspective with a loving embrace of the individuals and communities I may be called to serve. Thank you for the instruction and support to that end. I will try to put it to good use.


To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church, as well as an online seminary program and a chaplaincy program.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chaplaincy Studies

Universal Life Church

Master of Chaplaincy Studies by Rev. Arthur Strafuss

What I Have Learned.
Final Essay for Master of Chaplaincy Course
Rev. Arthur Strafuss

Now that I am at the end of another class I look back with a smile and admiration for the instructor and staff that supported me through this.  During this time I was appointed to the position of Chaplain in the American Legion.  I owe this position directly to the taking of the course. 

My assignment is to answer the following:

What did I learn from this course?
What helped me the most?
What could be improved in this course?
What do we hope to accomplish after taking this course?
The most important things of the course for me were the assignments. The getting and digging out the information, and the information was a storehouse, for me.  From this I have made a data base of all this information that I can bring up or go online to get what I need. 
The most important things that help me the most were:
A.     Learning about other type of chaplains, as the Animal Chaplain, which help pet owner through lost of a pet and consoling them their pet is sick or being hospitalizes.  I was surprise to find out that many Seeing Eye dog owners need that form of help through the hard time with their dog.
B.     Police and Fire Chaplains was a surprise in the duties of a chaplain may differ in many ways.  The Chaplain in my town covers both Fire and Police.  He does not live in the town, and is only on call.  In a city like Boston the chaplain is more of a face to face presents. Not just on call but out on call with the Fire Department or Police.  They can't share both departments.
C.    The need for a partner in my ministry. That can be a friend first and then a soul friend later, after we know and work with each other for awhile.   It needs time to know each other's strengths, and weaknesses and how we can help each other in our ministry.  It would e great to share a ministry together, helping others, reading sermons, and help with classes.
D.     Massachusetts Suicide Prevention Program

The goal of the Suicide Prevention Program is to reduce the number of suicides, suicide attempts and self-injury among Massachusetts residents. We do this by:
1.          Raising awareness of suicide as a public health problem
2.          Providing support to communities, agencies and individuals interested in suicide prevention
3.          Providing education and training for professionals and caregivers
4.           Funding community-based suicide prevention and mental health promotion programs
5.          Supporting and collaborating with state, regional and community suicide prevention coalitions

I am open supporting and encouraging communities to collaborate across disciplines to prevent suicide and suicide attempts across the lifespan. In our area, teen suicide is on the rise.  I may have an opportunity to help in the High Schools to get a handle on this problem.
E.      I loved the Tool kit.  What I am finding is the kit depends on what I am doing.  I am cutting back on the Bibles to carry around and the communion kit but I still keep then in the care.  I am also reinstalled my CB Radio back in the trunk.
F.      I like the lesion on active listening
There are two parts to active listening
1,   Have the ability to listen, make eye contact, body language, and giving the speaker your attention. Not to me distracted by cell-phone, noses, actions in the street, and so on.  This gives the message that you see what the speaker is saying is important and that you have an active interest in the subject.  This technique is best used on a one on one session, in which you are trying to help this person through something.  Be prepared for a lot of talk going into dead ends.  Theses session go for a long time until something comes out that you can actually help with.

2,   Having the ability to understand what the speaker is saying is the other.  This can be a smile, quick and shot comments, and sharing your own story.

Word of caution, I am a good listener, I have been most of my life, when dealing with a lonely single person male or female, do not get out the wrong massage.  You may need to make a boundary, or rule of the session that should not be broken.  It very easy to fall into this trap, I have and that is why I state the ground rules first.  It is call transference. I made the mistake of going out for coffee after the session.

What I would change:
A.     Fix the Forum.  I am still having problem with it.
B.     Would like to see Counseling as a complete course as part of this program.  It would help people like me that do not have any counseling history.
C.    More Internet resources, as in helps in consulting, and to Chaplain Organizations.

What do we hope to accomplish after taking this course?
A.     I am going through a hard time right now.  Once I get through it I will be developing my still as a Chaplain in the American Legion, and using that position to open up more opportunities as a Chaplain.
B.      I am continuing my courses to work toward the Master's in Chaplainry and then on to the Doctorates.
C.     I would like to join a professional chaplain organization, for the purpose of my own education and fellowship.
D.     Still Thinking about the Unemployment Chaplain.  I think there is a need there.  People go through the most trying time when they have lost their jobs.  Families break up, things fall apart and never get back together again.   People need to know that God is there and She/He is waiting to be ask for any help that is needed. When all is lost, there is always God. That needs to be convened, that they are not alone, that there is hope.  That a personal relationship with God (no matter how you see God) needs to be established, then prepare for something to happen.
E.      I still plain to work in Education, but God Centered no matter where I am.

Now that is the end of the last lesson.  I wish to thank Daniel Moore and Amy for their help and support.

Blessing to all and the good work you do.

Rev Arthur Strafuss

To ordain yourself with the Universal Life Church, for free, for life, right now, click on the Free Online Ordination link.

Rev. Long created the ULC seminary site to help ministers learn and grow their ministries. The Seminary offers a huge catalog of materials for ministers of the Universal Life Church, as well as an online seminary program and a chaplaincy program.