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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