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.


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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.


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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.

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