Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chaplaincy Studies

By Rev. Don Eck

 This course is one of the most enlightening courses not only on being a Chaplain but being a Minister in general.  It is my strong belief that anyone seeking ordination should take this class when beginning their ministry.  There is so much offered in this 20 week course that can help in any ministry.

Lesson 1 begins with giving the history and background to Chaplaincy work and gives a present day trend for our work as Chaplains. 

Lesson 2 talks about the Call to Ministry.  It reminded me of my early years wondering what it would be like to be a Minister.  I think I always had the call but put it on the back burner until age 50 when I decided it was time to listen to God and begin the Ministry work.  Now after completing the courses here at ULC I believe I am equipped with the tools to do the work on this ministry journey.

The course continues with an overview of the skills, qualifications and training of a chaplain.  Lesson 3 reminded me that as a chaplain one must become a good listener and not the talker.  Most often a person will just need someone to hear them out and not solve the problem.  This was a great reminder for me because I am a problem solver and this lesson put in perspective for me that solving the problem for someone else is not always the answer.  The job of the chaplain is to listen and ask the right questions so that the individual can solve their problems themselves.  Again in Lesson 9 the author goes into more detail on listening and I needed to hear that again and will review this lesson again and again.

The next few lessons outlined the many places a chaplain can work.  These lessons opened up a whole new world of work for one to choose from working in hospitals, nursing homes, with the fire and police departments to colleges and businesses.

The lessons on counseling; especially the one on grief has been a great help.  Since I want to continue working with hospitals, nursing homes and hospice I found these lessons to be of great help.  I will continue to study these lessons over time.

Thank you, Rev. Moore for lesson 13 and 17 the Traps to Avoid.  I have seen young ministers ruin their careers because they were unaware of the traps that they can fall into before they know it their career has gone down the drain as a minister. 

In Lesson 15 Rev. Moore talks about creating a sacred space for a worship service.  This lesson brought back memories for me of being in Vietnam and in the jungle the chaplain would have a Sunday Service and how quickly the jungle turned into a very special place for the soldiers.  It doesn’t take much effort for someone to create such a space.

Now we get to Lesson 19 The Chaplain’s Toolbox!
After reading this lesson I looked over the things that I carry with me in the car.  I found that I was well equipped with the tools needed for any situation.  I carry with me a portable altar set which can be used to convert any space into a sacred space.  In my carry bag I added a few things which I had never thought of carrying such as tissue, small recorder and some administrative forms which I had in the office but never with me.  I was reminded of the time I was on a hospital visit to see a member of the congregation.  In the parking lot from the car to the hospital I was stopped by a family on their way to their car.  I was asked if I would stop by the sister’s room and say a prayer over her.  The greatest tool I had at that moment for them was the tool of prayer.  Right there in the parking garage we gathered together in a circle and prayed together. The brother came to tears as we prayed.  They thank me for taking the time which was only a few minutes to pray with them.  After visiting the member of our congregation I stopped by the sister’s room and prayed with her.  For the next ten days I would stop on my visit to the hospital to pray with her.  She was released from the hospital at the same time as our member and she is recovering at home today.  I was shopping one day and there in the store was the brother and his son.  They came to me and again thanked me for the time I took to pray with them and his sister.  These were very special moments for me that I could make such an impact on one family that I may never see again but I know that God worked through me and gave this family peace and hope for better health.  This my friends was the result of having read this lesson.  The greatest tool we have in our toolbox is the power of prayer.  As I left the hospital I knew that this was a sign to continue on with a chaplain ministry at a hospital.

As a Chaplain we will meet individuals from various faith backgrounds and we will need a reference point as we meet with them.  Having an understanding of various faith beliefs is a very important requirement for a Chaplain.  One must have at least a general knowledge of the various faith structures and terms used in various faiths in order to understand where a person is on their spiritual journey in life.

This Chaplaincy Studies is the core to the Chaplain program and I know only the beginning.  I thank you for developing this course and look forward to taking more courses on my way to the Doctorate program in Ministry.  I cannot think of any improvement to this course.  My only  hope is to begin a Chaplain Ministry. I will continue to pray, study and learn more about being the best Chaplain that I can be. 


The Universal Life Church, is free place to become ordained,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button to get started today.

The ULC Seminary was created to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials. The  Universal Life Church has grown over the years and its Seminary has added the continual growth of the church.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chaplaincy Studies

Master of the Chaplaincy Studies by Rev. Phil Herman
Master Thesis

What did you learn?
This course enriched my understanding of what Chaplaincy is. I say IS because I now recognize that the ministry of Chaplaincy continually grows, expands and, in a sense, is a living ministry. Throughout the course I was exposed to the variety of needs that a chaplain can be called on to serve. Military, hospital, community – these are only a few of the areas where a chaplain can bring the message of salvation to those in need or who are hurting. Hospice programs and schools ca benefit from the services of a chaplain (although we need to be mindful of the type of school so as not to cross boundaries set up by the ACLU and our government).
This course identified that a level of formal education and practical experience is also needed. Before practicing as a chaplain, we need to be confident in our abilities to serve both effectively and efficiently. Effectively, so we do no harm but facilitate efforts to satisfy the needs of those we minister to. Efficiently, so we utilize our time and resources to the best of our abilities. Allowing us to spend time when necessary and where necessary, yet recognize when it is time to move on to the next individual or situation.
Education does not stop simply because we have attained a specific level of knowledge or understanding. As Chaplains, it is vital that we continue to expand our knowledge in human behavior, psychology, sociology and our religion. We need to be multi-talented and skillful voices that are able to respond to various situations. Continuing our education cannot guarantee we will always be ready, but it sure does arm us with skill sets that can surely aid us when needed.
To professionally serve others, we need to be professionals ourselves. This requires a level of ethics and ethical behavior. All professions adhere to a code of ethics. Chaplains also need a code of ethics that call for us to serve when needed, where needed and in a professional manner that causes no additional harm. Most established religions maintain a code of ethics (cannon Laws) that guide ministers. We are the examples and can be held to a much higher level of responsibility. This is both appropriate and necessary.
What helped you?
The format this course uses (internet lessons delivered on a weekly basis) is very appropriate for us "Older" students. It allows us to work on the course material at our own pace without arbitrary time limitations (due dates, etc). Although we had the opportunity to communicate with other students through the Seminary bulletin board, I found it cumbersome to do so. Without a set number of students going through the course together, it is difficult to talk about a particular issue or lesson as others are not at the same level (some ahead and others still behind).
Since the lessons are designed to be completed as an individual, I did not have any difficulties. The knowledge gained was not limited or hampered because I was studying alone. This speaks well of the lesson plan and materials supplied.

What could improve this course?
I have a few recommendations for improvement.
1. Include a reading list that corresponds with the lessons. I used the internet to gain additional information on being a chaplain. With all of the specialized areas a chaplain can go into, I can envision a substantial listing of books, pamphlets and articles that could be used to enhance this course.
2. Although individuals can start this course at any time and complete it in 20 weeks, they do not have the advantage of communicating with classmates unless others begin and end this course at nearly the same time. I believe it would benefit students to begin this course at the same time. A list of students names and e-mail addresses then could be shared and the mutual support could greatly enhance to learning process.
3. If the seminary does not want to begin the course for all students at a specific date, then at least identify among the students currently enroll who is in the program with their e-mail address. Then we can communicate with each other directly.
4. I know it is difficult to manage a large number of students at one time (I taught college courses at Washington College) but it is important to maintain student – instructor contact on a regular basis. Maybe every 5 lesson a short question and answer quiz could be inserted where the instructor can monitor student progress and comment on the answers supplied by the student. This serve several functions:
A. The student must respond to the questions before progressing to the next level
B. The instructor will review answers and guide the student as needed.
C. The student benefits from direct instructor comments.
What you hope you will accomplish as a result of taking this course.
 As a minister and a social worker, I am always looking forward to opportunities to expand my knowledge and understanding of my roll. I also look for better ways of assisting others. This course has helped along those lines.
The other benefit is the diploma or Masters Degree in chaplaincy which, in today's society, stands for formal recognition of an educational accomplishment. I gain a professional skill set needed to perform in a particular setting. Obviously as a social worker I am required to maintain currency in my field. As a minister, this should also be required, even if self imposed. The Seminary programs helps me maintain currency in fields of study needed to serve.
Submitted by:
Rev. Phil Herman, OblSB


Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011


If you have ever given any thought to serving as a chaplain, take this course. Rev. Daniel Moore presents the most complete description of a field that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Not a single question goes unanswered. Not a single aspect of the field is ignored.

When I signed up for the course, I was not sure this was the right direction for me to pursue. It had been suggested by a friend when I asked for an idea on how to put my ministry to work. But after spending many weeks learning about all the different chaplain possibilities, I decided that all were too structured. Not that going to a hospital every week and visiting the sick and grieving was a problem. It was the formality that has put me off. I always thought it would be fine to speak to the social worker at a hospital near my office or residence, one in which I knew a staff member or member of the Board, offer to volunteer to visit a particular group of people such as hospice patients and be on my way. Maybe this is still a possibility. But the course cautions a much stricter regimen.

But this dilemma belongs only to me. For anyone taking this course with the intent of completing the entire series, and then becoming a chaplain, there could be no better introduction. For me, I will continue with the series and see where it leads and what possibilities present themselves.

My thanks to Rev. Moore for allowing me the opportunity to glean from his wisdom.

Rev. Judith G. Wolf


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.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Linda Muhammad
Master of Chaplaincy

This course began by describing what a chaplain was and how chaplaincy began. A chaplain is a minister; however his ministry is out in the community instead of in a stationary building. A chaplain is the epitome of the workplace minister. The chaplain is truly the minister who is out in the highways and byways of life ministering to the needs of the people in the community setting. It was interesting to note that monks were some of the early chaplains. The monks often traveled from place to place and used signs to help the community find the various meeting places. They met in places that the community knew and they went to the community to meet their spiritual needs, much like the modern day chaplain. I found this course to be insightful. Most of the information was review, however the majority of the information I received as though a long time mentor was passing on needed information. One of the first items of discussion in the course was "The Call". The call is a term used to describe the awakening one receives from God to reach others with the good news of the Gospel. It is that innate desire within one to minister to others. The discussion of the call was such a confirmation for me. The call is a call from God for one to be God's representative on the earth. Those who are chosen to do the work of God have usually felt different, set apart, and we are, "We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood "as stated in the bible. I have always felt different and set apart and had a desire to help others. This feeling began early in my life, as I am sure other ministers have felt the same way. There has always been a knowing in my spirit that I was here for a divine purpose, and with that purpose was the obligation to live a consecrated life.

There is the saying in the bible, "To whom much is given much is required", this statement really relates to ministers. The qualities that a chaplain requires were also addressed in this course. Some of these qualities were described as follows:
  • Compassion
  • Caring
  • To be a good listener
  • To be available and attentive to those who need your help
  • To be accepting
  • To be genuine
  • To keep those items discussed private and recorded information in a secure place.
Chaplains are now available in hospitals, armed forces, nursing homes, in the prison setting, and truck stops. The need and the setting in which chaplains serve is ever evolving. I am sure that the future will bring many more opportunities to serve in various settings within our communities. Just as religion puts ministers in a box sometimes, it is our responsibility as chaplains, to think out of the box and be creative in meeting the needs of God's people. Chaplains can also serve employees in the various setting also, and those who have been hit by devastation and disaster. It is the job of the chaplain to come alongside those in need as a spiritual friend and guide.

In almost all of the settings in which a chaplain may serve it is important for the chaplain to be accepting and respectful to those of different religious beliefs. It is not our job to push our religious ideals, however when asked we can talk openly about our beliefs. It is also important for chaplains to have a working knowledge of the different religious groups or world religions. Our job is to serve, regardless of the person's religious persuasion. Studying various coursed with ULC Seminary has helped me to be open to others of a different religious view than mine. I personally feel that I am to live my life as an ambassador for Christ, and that the way I live my life will draw others to Christ. I am to be prepared to describe the hope I have and the peace I have obtained by dedicating my life to Christ. This is my personal walk, but I honor those who have chosen another path.

Burnout often happens to those who serve and give to others, especially ministers. As ministers we freely give to others, we pour out what God has given to us. However if you keep pouring out the vessel will soon be empty, and this can affect any minister. We also have to take the time to feel the vessel, with love, rest compassion, fun, and balance. We, as chaplains are the vessel, and we have to care for ourselves first in order to care for others. It is imperative for the chaplain to set healthy limits for those whom you work with and serve. Things such as having set office hours, set visiting hours, taking breaks and vacations are all ways to take care of you, while serving others. Taking care of your personal temple, through exercise, eating healthy foods, taking time for solace and prayer helps those we serve, because it helps the minister lead the life God has called him to.

Finally, it is important to be aware that there will be those we serve who may try to manipulate a minister and certain situations to meet their need. Setting appropriate limits, confronting in a compassionate manner, being wise and open are all appropriate interventions to handle manipulation. There are definitely tools to our trade prayer, a relationship with the living God, a good listening ear; love and compassion for others are some of the tools needed for the trade of chaplaincy. A chaplain has to stay true to himself, his or her God, their families, and the community in which they serve. It is imperative to live an ethical life that is worthy of the high calling from the most High God. As chaplains we need to avoid those situations that may cause needles controversy.

A chaplain, in my opinion, is one of the major foot soldiers in the army of God. It is an honor and a privilege to be used for the work of God on the earth. I think the author of this course did an excellent job of providing information that was very concise and organized. I could definitely use the information provided for reference material. There was many thought provoking topics discussed. I sincerely hope that taking this course will add validity to me as a minister and a chaplain. In order for ULC ministers to be taken seriously we have to be educated and confident in whom we are. Our relationship with God is of course the most important thing, but after that is to be prepared for the high calling he has called us to. That preparation comes from study, application, and training. As stated in the word of God we must study to show ourselves approved.


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.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011


Rev. Justin Oles

The assignment following this course was to answer the following questions:
1.     What did I learn from this course?
2.     What helped me the most?
3.     What could be improved in this course?
4.     What do we hope to accomplish after taking this course?

I guess the best place to start here is with defining what a chaplain is.  A chaplain is a religious leader frequently working with transient worshipers and usually working in more than one faith.  The transient nature of the flock often leads to a lack of relationships with the individual worshipers and therefore a lack of connection beyond that attributed solely to the shared faith.  Also, due to the transient nature of the worshipers a chaplain in often required to minister to those who follow different beliefs and practices than his or her own.  This in and of itself makes a chaplaincy a difficult experience.  On top of that chaplains frequently work in places where they deal with the extremes of human existence.  By working in places such as air ports, police departments, hospitals, prisons and the military they often have to deal with people grieving from death, killing, sickness and all other forms of human suffering.  Sometimes, although less often, they will have the pleasure of dealing with the more positive aspects of the human condition such as marriages and births.
What did I learn from this course?
From taking this course I learned some of the finer points of exactly what a chaplain does or deals with, things I had not thought about before.  I also developed a small kit bag of things to do, know and think about involved in a chaplaincy.  I haven’t taken the time to put together a kit bag of tangible items yet as with my career field and location that is not easy nor feasible.
            There were also some great sections covering some of the many different types of chaplains and some of the specifics of their practices as well as some of the challenges and pitfalls.

What helped me the most?
            The most helpful part for me was the small thoughts and assignments at the conclusion of every discourse.  They helped me to solidify my ideas, find out some of the local laws and regulations and discover more about what a chaplain really does.  The only chaplains I’ve dealt with were military chaplains so this created some new ideas and gave me things to think about as well as new things to study and learn to better myself as a minister.
What could be improved in this course?
I think it would have been beneficial to add some more required courses or add sections to the course on counseling, in its many forms.  As stated in several of the discourses, counseling is a major role of the chaplain and while it is good to put it out there as something extra to do separate from the coursework it would also be beneficial to at least provide some guidance on actual counseling in addition to the sections covering active listening that are included in many seminary courses. 
            The section on active listening was beneficial and although covered in a lot of different discourses it is important to understand.  One of the major tenets of active listening is that it is a skill that must always and constantly be focused on, worked through and improved.  One of the most important parts of active listening is to seem involved in the conversation.  Just hearing what someone is saying isn’t enough to have people feel you care.  There are simple things you can do involving just your body language that can make someone believe you really care what they have to say.  The basics of it are to keep eye contact, learn towards the speaker, don’t fiddle with things or dry wash your hands.  If you have trouble or uncomfortable keeping eye contact you can simply look through a person or over that head, it will give the illusion of you looking them in the eye without actually doing it.  Those are not tricks I recommend making a constant use of but for people who have issues with eye contact it can be useful.  Another great trick for active listening is to through in affirmations (yes, yup, I understand, uhuh, etc) during the natural pauses in the conversation.  If something doesn’t make sense ask then what they mean.  If you do understand but something is unclear or you wish to clarify say something along the lines of, “what I hear you saying is…”  These are easy tricks but they can greatly improve the conversation, plus they help to keep you engaged in the conversation and make it harder for you to grow bored or distant.  It is also beneficial to have these conversations one on one.  A word of warning there though, you want to avoid anything that could cause issues socially, publicly or morally.  For example, it would be unwise for and adult male to meet alone with a young woman.  In a case such as this it’s best to meet with the full knowledge of other people, possibly with a female friend (either yours or theirs present), possibly in a public place or at a minimum with the door open.  Remember to always watch out for your own safety, while counseling and meetings may seem best private and fairly safe there can be a danger there.
What do I plan on doing following the completion of this course?

Before taking this course I was the chaplain of my motorcycle club chapter.  While the job doesn’t really require much religious work it does involve mediating problems and coordinating for the annual blessing of the bikes and coordinating any funerals and funeral items for the chapter.  After taking the course I feel I have a better understanding of how I could help the club with the various tasks required as part of that.  I also frequently get questions from others about my faith and about religion in general, this course has given me some better ideas of how I might explain things depending on different persons, their beliefs and their personalities.


Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.

Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


When I am called out for Chaplain Duties (I call them Chaplain Calls, so that I can tell my wife I am off doing my calling), it can be at anytime, or place.  Therefore, my Toolbox is always in the pickup truck, ready to go.  In it I carry:

1.    3 Bibles
a.    Small pocket size NIV
b.    A larger Print NIV
c.    A Roman Catholic Bible
d.    At times I may take a Large Print American Bible, for services
2.    Day Timer
a.    To keep track of appointments
b.    Make Notes
c.    Listing of Shelters (Boston Area)
  i.    Homeless
  ii.    Women
  iii.    Men
  iv.    Veterans
d.    Emergency Numbers
  i.    Police
  ii.    Fire
  iii.    Hospitals
  iv.    Ambiances
e.    Numbers of fellow Chaplains, Ministers, Priest and Rabies. (Good Friends)
f.    Number of a Psychologist, who is also a good friend.
3.    A copy of the Minister's Handbook by Orlando Tibbetts.(Small)
4.    A copy of the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Handbook (small)
5.    American Legion Chaplain's Manual.
6.    Military Service Chaplains' Manual (small).
7.    The Notebook from this course.
8.    A simple communion kit. (my own design)
9.    At times I use a Roman Collar, when the time is right for it. (Friar Tuck blue clergy shirt) But mostly I am in    street    close with a cross around my neck or shirt and tie with the cross.
10.    $5.00 minimum
11.    Cell phone
12.    Small Hand held Tape Recorder.
13.    Flash Light
14.    First Aid Kit.
15.    I use to carry a jack knife, but no more. 
16.    I carry two Handkerchiefs
17.    Didn't think about music until now.  Maybe tapes, CDs, or a hymnal. 
18.    I have a copy of The Common Book of Prayer.  Helps with services, confessions, and so on.

All of this fits into a carry bag that goes over my shoulder, but mostly stays in the truck.
I do have a Personal Computer which I don't use all that offend. It goes in its own case. Good to check my Email. And I have Bible software loaded on it.

Blessing to

Rev. Arthur Strafuss


Ordination with the Universal Life Church, is free,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button.

The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I've been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it's Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.

Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chaplaincy Studies

Chaplaincy Program

This course has been most interesting in so many ways. We've learned about actions, confidentiality, most certainly flexibility in our being able to roll with the situations given us as a Chaplain. I can not imagine an ordained Minister of a specific Faith may have any less curves thrown at his/her self however perhaps they might not be expected to be quite as flexible as their Parishioners will most likely be seeking knowledge withing their own Genre'.

I've learned that there are a plethora of peoples available as well as reference sources available to use for the situations that may have arisen during a visit or volunteer duty. I recently ordered and began reading a "Life situation" study Bible which has notes in it for many avenues of things that may arise, for instance if someone asks about why Prayer doesn't seem to work sometimes it has Chapters and verses for that as well as some simple modernly worded readings that are helpful for answering questions.

I have begun rebuilding my "kit" by getting one of those little cloth bags but am thinking of ordering a briefcase so it may look and seem a bit more professional. This is of course not to put on any airs however it may be a bit easier than having to dig through a bag for an item, everything will be in a place in a briefcase.

I have been Blessed to have a Great instructor and many very knowledgeable fellow students within the taking of this course and I myself hope it survives and becomes a Seminary staple for those that may be seeking knowledge and extra works without going all the way on to a full Seminary graduation due to personal beliefs or monetary situations etc.

This course does in my opinion give an avenue of learning and inner realization to ones within its' program. I have enhanced my ableness of speak with my minions around the World and opened my mind to a better understanding of what may be happening in someone else's personal life. Stop and think before you "presume" to know what someone is thinking or why they may react to a situation of wording differently than others. I heard on a Paul Harvey program once about the benefit of the doubt, if someone passes you when you are doing the speed limit or perhaps a bit more and this person really takes off and is gone down the road in a clip, perhaps they had to use the restroom. MR Harvey also explained there were obviously other reasons for gaining the benefit of the doubt but wanted to use that as a point so folks would have a laugh.

This course in it's own way has taught us to be more open within our own areas of professionalism weather Mainline religion or an avenue fringed on a slightly differing practice that may utilize other methodology with the same basic premise in mind. I myself am proud to have been a student of this area and look forward to the many more areas of courses I shall undertake in my quest for knowledge and ultimately graduation.

Thank You and of course as ever, Take Care and Be Well,

Pastor Leo Merchant


The Universal Life Church, is free place to become ordained,  and lasts for life, so use the Free Online Ordination, button to get started today.

The ULC Seminary was created to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials. The  Universal Life Church has grown over the years and its Seminary has added the continual growth of the church.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lesson 16

I have found a spititual "soulmate" who has so far been a rock in my life. He has also found that I have been a influnce on him also. He is a local Baptist Minister who works with me, and when I told him that I chosen to become a minister he was right behind me. When I was questuining myself that because I chose to go the way I had to be ordqained , he explined to me, a call is a call no matter how you chose to go. He has given me multi references, and helped me in performing services that I have done. He told me that what I have done had helped him reaffirm his faith and pushed him to go back to school to get his doctorate. He is my Soulmate in God.
Rev. Rick Robbins

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chaplaincy Studies

By Michael L Disney                                                             

First I'd like to begin my final essay with a brief Introduction and/or background to my 'calling', which wasn't to be a Chaplain – or at least so I thought at the time.  My spiritual journey began as a young child with parents concerned enough for the spiritual well-being of us two boys (me and my brother) that they often took us to churches to attend Sunday schools (that were age-based for our ages).  I didn't think much of it at the time, but our parents didn't stay for Sunday school classes themselves, or for church services.  I questioned it later on, but at the time, I enjoyed the Bible stories and 'refreshments' and meeting new friends my own age.  However, being from military family, we moved a lot and so our churches (the on-base chapels for the most part) were not permanent fixtures in my life.  I always knew the minister at these base chapels were called "Chaplains", but always figured it was mostly a "military title" or designation.
When I was a teenager, dad retired from the Air Force and we "retired" to a small town in North San Diego County in California.  One afternoon, an older guy stopped by our house and introduced himself as 'Chappie', a retired Air Force Chaplain who stopped by to visit a 'fellow Air Force retiree' who he heard had just moved into the neighborhood – and of course, it was an instant 'brother in arms' kind of bonding, both having retired from the same branch of service.  He was quite cordial, friendly and warm and didn't linger around trying to talk for hours on end – and he simply and quietly wanted to invite us to his local Baptist church the next Sunday, as his guest.  We attended and as it turned out, my brother and I became very active in their youth ministries (whereas my parents attended semi-regularly).  I was about 13 yrs old at the time. 

On January 8th, 1967, the day I attribute my spiritual 're-birth', I fully realize that this one-time visit, from a retired Air Force Chaplain, ultimately lead to my becoming 'born again'.  So from practically the beginning of my young memory, God has used Chaplains to be very instrumental in paving the way of my spiritual journey.  If I become fortunate enough to be called "Chappie" one day, I would feel He would have brought me full circle.  While God's Word is a Lamp unto my Feet, I now feel that the Lamp was being "kept" (held) by a Chaplain at key points in my life!  Which leads me to my next section in the essay … what did I learn from this course.
Immediately, I learned that the word Chaplain comes from the Christian tradition and the word 'capella' or cloak was a type of garment that was shared by St Martin with a person in need; over time this 'cloak' became a 'relic' and relics and sacred things were kept in "chapels";  and those who ministered in chapels were seen as "keepers of that which is Sacred".  This is so true and I lived this reality for all those teenage (& following) years … but never knew what it MEANT!  Coming from a military family, Chaplains, as a title, is a house-hold word – but we always knew the Chaplain was the 'keeper of the Sacred'.  This course pulled that all together into a clear and cohesive concept – now it seems so 'obvious'!
 What was especially helpful was the section on "the Call".  There are so many times when doubt and discouragement raise their ugly heads to make you call into question, the very idea that God would even care to "call me" into a ministry.  The review of how many other spiritual 'pillars' found in the Bible were 'called' and 'set apart' for their ministry, really helped to drill home the point that a calling isn't always just a one-time event, but that a lifetime of ministry is being 'called' into action as well.  Knowing that you know, deep inside that I am here to minister to others IS clear – but it is also "quiet".  It's a 'calm assurance' inside and not some loud banging, disturbing, saber-rattling noise.  This lesson was a 're-affirmation' of the call I believe I received while in college as well as a re-FOCUS on the calling being a lifetime path to follow.  The call being so "quiet" at times, I have drifted away from ministry – this course has helped re-establish the 'call'.
Another help was in the area of 'crises counseling' and that a "touch" is probably the most powerful comfort 'tool' we have – to connect with a grieving person and to establish the human 'touch', drives home the idea of 'suffering together'.  While the loss is their direct and personal loss (2 co-worker's husbands died unexpectedly in the past 90 days) and was able to put this "to the test" immediately.  And that you don't have to have a bunch of words to say, or Bible verses to quote or anything else – just a silent presence with an occasional touch speaks so much more to the heart!
A solid concept – being accountable – was another excellent area to review from Chapter 13 – "Traps to Avoid".  Too often there's the false sense of security and/or protection that being a "keeper of the sacred" that the "carnal nature" will be forced to submit to His Holiness and His Way of thinking.  So that chapter was a good review that we are all human and 'fall short of the glory of God' and to be ever vigilant of the traps that are always out there. 
I'm not sure what more could be done to "improve" the course – as from my perspective, I simply don't have the background and/or experience to know what might be "missing" or taught differently!  I am still at the novice level of "Chaplaincy", but not novice at being a minister.  Perhaps an additional section or chapter might expound on the typical "duties" a Chaplain is often called upon to perform (I know many Pastors are asked to conduct weddings, funerals, visitation, etc) but I'm not sure CHAPLAINS are asked to do the same things.  So a review of a basic wedding ceremony, or funeral ceremony or baptism or other similar duty or function might be useful (even though those topics WERE discussed, perhaps just a little more insight into the planning and coordination; even a sample service/sermon/presentation might have been helpful).  Or even as the area of preparations for ministry (e.g, the Tollbox Chapter) was quite helpful, maybe some additional insights into various administrative reports for those to whom the Chaplain reports to, would be nice.  I felt the 20 lessons for the course covered a wide-spectrum of areas to discover and as such, was quite effective in opening up the 'Chaplain's World' to us students who wish to pursue a Chaplaincy ministry.
What I plan to accomplish following this training is to first, seek out local opportunities to become a "Chaplain Intern" and to work with an established Chaplaincy ministry and be able to offer additional support help and the chance to apply what's I've read and studied about and will learn 'on the job',  lessons from real life, real ministry, ministering to real needs.  I mentioned earlier that I had a 'calling' back in College and soon thereafter I served in a local church in a full time ministry position (Associate Pastor/Minister of Education) for 2 years as well earning a Master's Degree in Ministries (Christian Education and Counseling).  After my 'interning'  is complete,  I then plan to seek part-time or possibly a full-time local Chaplain position.  It is possible that I'll be retiring from my 'secular career' in 2 – 3 years and so continuing to contribute to my community in a ministerial way as a Chaplain would be the ideal situation for me.   Putting all these 'pieces' together would be re-focusing on my ministry as I approach those 'golden years' into retirement and being able to leverage my earlier experience and education with more current education and experience and to be a useful vessel unto the Lord as a Chaplain.

Rev. Michael Disney


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chaplaincy Program

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 17

List the ways you are held accountable and write a brief description. Do you have a mentor? If not, what is your plan to find and establish a mentoring relationship? If you do, write a brief description and the blessings you have received from it.
As the chaplain for my chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Assoc.,  I am held accountable on several levels.  First, and foremost, I believe I am held accountable to God.  For me to be an effective Chaplain, I realize I must walk in His pathway and be an example of the way He wants us to live.  Secondly, I am held accountable by our Area Representative.  He is frequently present at our meetings and gives positive and constructive input to ensure I am following the guidelines as set forth by the International Organization.  Thirdly, I am held accountable my my chapter in that I am required to give monthly reports as to how my duties are being followed.  These reports are included in the minutes of the meeting and available to all to review.
I do have a mentor....the former chaplain of our chapter is a very strong, encouraging and enlightening mentor.  Often, we discuss together my duties and how to best approach them....We pray together and for each other and together we carry out the chapter Bible study.  He is a true blessing because he teaches and models so much for me both as a mentor and as a person.
May God Bless you.....
Luke 14:23


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chaplaincy Course

Chaplaincy Course Essay

Where to begin? This course has become even more profound for me now that it has ended.
I realize I am just beginning this path of a more structured Spiritual Mentor/Teacher/Counselor/ and friend. And that is just touching on a few areas opening up.

From an early age my life was geared towards Spiritual Matters. Often being the peacekeeper in family and other matters. I had a knowing, an intuitive seeing of the needs of others. In my early 20’s I became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation(TM) and moved to live in a community of people that practiced TM. My life at this point became centered in Spiritual matters more than worldly ones. My spiritual experiences deepened as did my study of spiritual matters. I have meditated  at least twice a day for over 39 years. 

 Within 9 years of beginning TM I became a Spiritual Mentor/Advisor to others. Offering prayers, counseling, compassion and comfort.  My role as a Mentor has been a part of my life for over 26 years.

One of the first things I learned in that role was the importance of  integrity. I learned that for others to trust me I had to be impeccable in my own word. My integrity had to be unwavering and then the trust followed naturally. I became accountable to anyone I worked with because I saw the results in my work with them. My life became an open book in many ways and I saw how comforting that was to people.

One of my next big lessons was with burn out. If I did not take care of my own well-being I could not care for anyone else. I was a single mother raising a beautiful son and it always showed up there first, any imbalance. If I got off my routine I got burned out easily and that made life at home harder. I learned over and over again how important it is to stay balanced and have a healthy routine.

 I am seeing how setting  up a schedule with flexibility that allows for those non scheduled people to get the help they need.  Especially working in hospice situations life does not always follow a linear schedule.  It is important to take regular times of renewal and rejuvenation which I find invaluably addressed by my daily meditation.

I am also a Wilderness Guide and find that to be a special ceremony in its own right. People come to the wilderness to leave behind their cares and worries and to be renewed in Spirit. We teach them to create  their own prayers and ceremony as they are out in the Wilderness on their own. It is amazing to see how they have changed with just that short time with Creator/God/Spirit. They experience directly the value of having their own personal relationship with God and how effortless it is. 

The Spiritual side of life is more familiar and comfortable to me than the everyday busy world of schedules and meetings and day-timers and paperwork.

I can offer a prayer/blessing in the blink of an eye but flounder hopelessly when it comes to computer problems , technology set up appointments etc.

I am very grateful for ULC and this course Master of the Chaplaincy Studies that has now led me directly to the Chaplaincy program. I am grateful for all that I learned and renewed in this course and I am eager for the growth that will come by following the entire Program, thank you.
I learned or rather confirmed that this is indeed the Path I am meant to follow. I am here to be of greater service to all people through the loving light of Divine Spirit, Creator.

I also learned that there are a lot of specifics to attend to that will allow the service part to flow more effortlessly.I look forward to becoming more prepared to be of service in any situation that might arise.

Some of those things being; tools of the trade, learning to listen, which is one of my gifts and I can always go deeper in my listening and learn as I listen. Being present to the person or people I am ministering to by knowing how to address their concerns even if it be to refer them to someone else. 

I love the ease and openness of how this course flows. You can go week by week with each lesson or take more time if your life is too busy to do weekly. Going at ones own pace has many advantages, I feel. 

I have always experienced repetition as a very positive and even powerful teaching tool, and found this to be helpful in this course.

I believe as I identify and align with the institution that  I will minister to primarily, many of the logical things will be answered, such as scheduling and finances and proper Chaplain attire and appropriate ceremonies to name a few. 

I imagine that as I move further into the Chaplain Program that more questions and answers will arise and I am eager for that. I feel open to learning and growing. I recognize that the very act of signing up for the Chaplain Program will bring up instances to grow in .  I am committed to traveling this road with grace and ease and devotion.  

I look forward to opportunites to serve in a greater way than I do presently and am thankful that my life was destined to be in service from the beginning. I appreciate the structure and offerings of the ULC Seminary and feel confident I will be more prepared once I have completed the Chaplain Program and done more volunteer work in Hospice particularly.

Thank you to those at ULC for your commitment to serve in this way. Thank you for your offering of these courses that will touch the lives of so many people as those of us that partake of these courses go out to minister to many others. The ripple effect is unlimited. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Reverand Pamela S Bagot-Beasley

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chaplaincy lesson 12

The only time I have ever been required to council folks is in the military. I did not only have to council in military affairs, but some personal and finical. This course has given me some more tools I can put in my tool box to use when I have to council in the future. I being a new chaplain have to look at different people who need help, and people with different problems. I believe that some of the things I have done in the past, making the person to take ownership, have work, but now that I have study this lesson I now have more ways that I can council folks

Rick Robbins
Sent from my iPad

Chaplaincy Studies

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 Chaplaincy 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


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