Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 14


In reviewing the information provided by this lesson, I have learned some things about marriage and holidays which was formerly unknown to me. I have not performed my first marriage ceremony (although I have offered) but I'm sure that one day I may well be led to do so. Also I have not yet held any of the listed ceremonies for holidays, holy days or special days. I will contact the activities director for the nursing home I volunteer with to see if she can provide some useful details and information on this and other topics.

Although I have not performed any of these, it has been on mind at times and I found it appropriate to consider how these might be handled should I be asked. Here's what I have come up with in my journals.

As pertains to my policies involving marriage: While I do proclaim to be Christian in some since, although not the common sense, yet more of a historic/original sense, I do not wish to separate or categorize people by labeling them as being of a particular religious background or of having certain beliefs and ideals. What I do promote is religious freedom and unbound love toward all things under heaven and on earth and beneath the earth. This being said, I do not find it necessary , nor appropriate (for myself) in my line of duty, to decide whether or not a marriage is right with God. This is not my calling, but God's alone. I will marry any who come to me, assuming that they are able to provide sound reasoning for my so doing and of course that they are of the legally accepted age. This means everyone, not regarding sex, sexual preference, religious ideals, belief or affiliations, or historic findings, so long as there is no law against it and so long as these do not go against my ethics. I would certainly feel obligated to ensure the safety of all parties involved as well as the strength and commitment required for the longevity of the union. While I cannot guarantee any form of success or longevity in their union, I can provide a means by which I might they might investigate these things for themselves, and by which I might be more able to help them to ensure the soundness of this life-long decision. I would certainly want to provide some form of pre-marital counseling to the couple to make sure that their relationship, at least in the present tense, is one built upon attribute which are becoming of this commitment. I want to ensure that both parties understand what marriage means and what it doesn't mean.  I also want to make sure that there are no serious issues which might interfere with this union's purpose. While I haven't yet determined any definite ideas on this per say, I will search for some outlines on the topics which may be pertinent to this issue.

If all is well with the couple and they both are of sound minds, and they are both complete, aware and willing to step into this lifelong commitment to and with one another, then and only then would I marry the couple.

As pertains to celebrations:
Again, I do not fully know what this might entail but by my estimation and from my gleanings gained by involvement in many celebrations throughout my life, I can assume the following might be appropriate:

1) Show up before the event to mingle
2) Open with a prayer
3) Provide any services requested, including readings, dedications and others
4) stick around and be a part of the community
5) talk to people during the event if allowed.
6) close with a prayer
7) stick around a while to talk to the people

I hope to gain a better understanding of these as I progress both in education and in experience. Thank you for everything you do.

Chaplaincy Program Student

What I learned as a Chaplaincy student?

Having served in the American military, Chaplains are the cornerstone of what every recruit needs to speak to when the pressure is intensified by the drill Sergeants (army) , Drill Instructors (US Marine Corps), each branch requires recruit to exceed their previous goals. The chaplain plays an instrumental role in their abilities to understand the pressures that each recruit faces and converses with each individual about, once you graduate from basic and advanced individual training, the tasks get harder but the rewards are tangible. Chaplains are both teacher and student with individuals who are "Home Sick", needing of spiritual guidance.

My direction of becoming a chaplain is based on how I found solace with chaplains, who view what we as people and not by products.  "Measure not men by Sundays, without regarding   what they do all the week after."  (Robert Fuller).  I remember this quote when I went through the military because Sunday, was "Free Time" for 2/3 hours.

The chaplain today is both and listener and a speaker. "The Work of The Chaplain".  (Naomi K. Piaget & Janet R. McCormick.  Listening for today's chaplain is not about hearing what a person is saying but what a person is not saying (body language, unable to answer questions, avoidance of issues.

I learned through this course that I have a long way to achieve my goal of becoming a chaplain. I belief in the goodness of others, but I find my self asking why people do not respond to the help that we as ministers, priests, chaplains are giving. I work at UPS and I am a Notary Public. The trust I receive from my peers at UPS is because of being a Notary. When my colleagues are aware of my becoming a chaplain, they are becoming stand offish.  I find this to be more of a task of my finding my path, while others are still finding their niche.

What I learned from this course is about the today's chaplain:  Men and women are facing barriers that are needed to be brought down for morale, expectations of the greater good and open dialogue between parties.  Chaplains are in all parts of our communities. Police, fireman, Sanitation, hospitals, and nursing homes - each area needs chaplains who are open minded, able to react to all situations, be positive, and offer a lending ear when times are tough.  Chaplains come from all walks of life and believe in their calling for aiding others. "One man with courage makes a majority."   (Andrew Jackson) Chaplains are individuals that face life/death situations with poise, courage of conviction, are the moral compass of leadership and not dictatorship; when situations become unbearable. Chaplains are the First responders when tragedy and uncertainty are present. They kindness, compassion help others in times of need. Chaplains are becoming more non-denominational when cultures, religious and beliefs system are brought together.

What helped me with the chaplaincy program is being aided by chaplains at the local hospitals and convalescent care centers who helped me in my becoming a chaplain's assistant. As an aide to chaplain, My role is to keep the communications open between the patients, staff and management. I found that I had to balance my hats in keeping the line of communications open. I helped in funerals, went out in the field where accidents occurred and offered aid and comfort.

When I am working at UPS, I have a emergency bag with necessary tools of the trade:  Visitors stole, King James Bible NKV, Small Torah, and the Koran with holy water and a crucifix and Pastoral care for the sick.  What has helped me in my transformation from student to assistant is my role is not save lives through prayer, but listening and communicating. When I visit hospitals, hospice-care centers, listening and small talk helps me and others in our journeys.

What I find about this course is there is no need for improving the quality and quantity of this class. Each area of becoming a chaplain is explained with only a chaplain would know and understand.  The usage of the tool-belt is my fondness moment. Chaplains wear many hats with compassion and empathy the most important. What I know about this course is that Chaplains are not policy makes but are pivotal person in the communications between staff members and the general public.  The tools that I learn from this course will help me in my personal and professional growth as a chaplain in training.

What my accomplishments I feel that are derived from this course is my poignant approach to all situations. I would normally question the motives of the individuals. Now I am more of a "Listen with your ears instead of your mouth" person.  Taking this course opens my eyes to the ever changing world of the clergy and the constant vigil of being the beacon of the light. Knowing that we do not know all the answers but we are on the front with compassion, cup of coffee and lending ear in trying times. "Let whoever is wise pay attention to those things and consider the Lord's acts of faithful love." Psalm 107:43.

My hope is that over time I will be more of a sage in the hospital or hospice settings, whereas staff and patients can/will come to me for spiritual guidance

Chaplains today represent goals, ideas that we all share:  Do what is right with others, keeping with the Golden rule, being there for good times and bad times.

I believe that working at UPS (driver) my role as a chaplain will enhance communications between hourly's and management. Having a shop steward protects the non-management and HR protects management, but who protects the spirit of unity:  That is my function, too bridge the gap; not take sides but be aware of the pitfalls and keep the lines of communication open. Trust is a factor that is lacking between management and non-management, I want/will bridge that gap through open dialog and fairness, for both sides.                     

Friday, May 25, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 12

I typically handle my ministry in this way:

1. Usually I am contacted by the person who seeks counsel. Depending on their particular problem or circumstances, we either meet then or I
will schedule a time to meet with them. I like to meet in quiet but public areas as I find it is often more comfortable for the person. Other times, specifically when the person is the same sex as myself, I like to meet in a local hospital's chapel, as this area is very peaceful and quiet and private.

2. At this first meeting I generally like to listen to the person and let them tell me about what is going on in their life. When you open the conversation in this way, one of two things will happen. The person may open up and tell you all about it. They have often been holding so much inside themselves, not feeling free to share it or comfortable releasing this information from within. They have sometimes been waiting so long and will feel at peace sharing with you
what has been bothering them. I encourage this if possible. The second thing that I see happening at this point is that the person may not know how to let it out, in which case it may require further promptings and leading on my part to get them to tell me something.

3. Often the problem(s) cannot be solved all at once. It generally takes time to make changes or for the situation to improve. This is where I will set of another session in which I will try to get more specific information and together we can try to discover the root of the issues at hand. Once the root has been exploited, we can move forward toward ways to cope with and perhaps even change certain attitudes, behaviours or circumstances.

4. After reading this study, I would really like to add some things to my sessions with people. Two things I will consider integrating into the counseling are:

A. Create some forms for use in the first visit. These could be on the computer and could also be printed for use elsewhere. I would like to try collect some information from the person which might enable me to serve them better.

B. Create a few templates to help my counselee. I would like to create some goal setting sheets and journal sheets which would enable the person to set a plan in action and follow through by taking small steps to reach their objectives. I would also like to integrate the journal sheet in order to provide the person a way of documenting progress, as well as their thoughts and feelings and any challenges that they see in carrying out the plan we have created for them.

C. I have considered requesting some printed materials containing all of the known and active resources within the community. This would enable to refer people to various resources as the need should arise.

Rev. Aaron

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 11

Last month, I counseled a woman of around forty years. She came to me in great despair and it was clearly that she was hurting and mourning
over some serious loss. During our visit, she discussed with me that she has lost her children to the State in a custody battle several years ago and she had no idea how she would move on and cope with this great loss. I tried to be understanding and empathetic to her situation. I helped her to try focusing on the  positive things in the present tense rather than negatives from the past. She told me that this was very difficult and that she didn't believe that it was possible to move forward after having lost her children. She does not have any contact with her children at all, making it a very difficult situation for her to accept. I gave her some resources in the community where she might receive counseling and that might be more helpful in these particular situations.

I learned that the past can be very difficult to let go of and that sometimes it is extremely difficult to help people in these ways. I will endeavor to become more knowledgeable and practiced in this type of counseling.  For now, I know that  I can certainly be there as a friend and fellow human. I thank God for the people who He places in my life and know that in all of these there is a lesson for me to learn and a way for me to grow closer to Him.

Rev. Aaron
Chaplaincy Studies

Monday, May 21, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 9

Active listening and appropriate response is a crucial part of my ministry as a chaplain. As a community chaplain, all sorts of people contact me with questions and to talk about situations and concerns happening in their lives. It is very important that we are able to communicate effectively and the we understand each other well.

Active listening will help to provide a means of helping in situation that you might not otherwise be able to help in. It gives you a great opportunity to get information that may no have been shared any other way. It also help to hear the counselee out, and then provides you with a background upon which you will be better prepared to give accurate, targeted resources and information that may benefit the counselee and possibly change a life, solve a problem, or alleviate a pressing concern.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Master of ULC Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 7

   I know a local volunteer chaplain who works at one of the city's three hospitals. On his "off-time" he also serves a high school in the area as a part-time spiritual counselor. He tells me that the work varies as much as the people he talks to on a daily basis. At both facilities, he says, his work is determined by whatever is happening right at that moment for someone.

    About 9 weeks ago I started volunteer chaplaincy work at a nursing home across the street from where I live. I don't volunteer full-time, only weekends for now, but it is a wonderfully feeling to talk with the residents and get to know them. Sometimes they just need someone to listen, other times they are wanting to pray with someone. Most of the time, you can just "feel" the relief of the people knowing that I am in the rooms with them.

    I have also looked into volunteering for a nearby funeral home, which would help me to gain experience and possibly some CPE to grow on. I'll keep you posted as to any progress.

Rev. Norris
Universal Life Church

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Answers for Master of Chaplaincy Studies, Lesson 2


I've known a man who has this mark bestowed on him. I have known him for many years. This mark is made evident in many ways. He certainly walks with God and prays at EVERY event and happening. He prays as if he is speaking on a personal level with God himself. He talks to Him about what he wants and needs and about the needs and comfort of those he serves. He pastors a church now. But, years ago he was the head chaplain for the Texas MHMR system. He taught me many things in my youth and one of the most riveting and profound of his teachings was that of how to pray and study scripture. He is one of the most unique people I have ever met in my life. He has come in and out of my life for more than 15 years, and always in a ministerial position of services and care.

Quite a few people has noticed something different about me. They make comments about my level of intelligence being over their own, which I
strongly stand against and tell them truthfully that I in fact have very little education (formally) and a low IQ rating. They have said that I understand extremely complex problems beyond a doctorate level, although I have difficulty much of the time in expressing the these, and their solutions, in simple enough terms to be understood.

The gifts and abilities of my calling are those of understanding, memory, grasping technologies, kindness and the ability to completely forgive, usually before the offense has been dealt. I have an uncanny ability to speak with gentle persuasion, manipulation and diplomacy in a way which creates peace, harmony, understanding and solutions(usually temporary). I am able to say things, or ask things which create motivation in people, and have of late used this ability
to get people all over the world to ask the all-important question, "Why do I believe whatever I believe?" My question invoke feelings and stir emotions and present a curious series of information and understanding that contradicts what is taught in the world at large, most of it focused on scriptural truths. One of the many delightful and positive side-effects of this kind and gentle prodding is that people are eager to understand and research their beliefs to validate the things that they hold true, and to share what they themselves will learn by studying with those around them. One of my goals is to use ALL of these abilities to help people understand that we are one and we need to be united AS HUMAN BEINGS.

    Dr.Rev. Ronald "Aaron" Norris

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chaplaincy Studies Chapter 5 from the Universal Life Church

    I know several hospital chaplains, but one of my very closest
friends and mentors is retired Chaplain Emory Johnson. I first met him
in Waco, Texas where he not only served as the resident Chaplain for
Waco Center for Youth, but was also appointed at that time as the
Chief Chaplain of all 22 State Hospitals and State Schools under the
control of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental
    He was always there when I needed him or wanted someone to talk
to. We would always be reading the bible and he would hold weekly
services for the youth at my cottage. He always seemed thrilled to be
right there, right then and he was is is a very powerful influence on
everyone around him.
    We kept contact after Waco. He eventually retired after 25 years
in the chaplaincy and went back home. Time conflicts on both sides
have made it very difficult to achieve an interview, but I can
certainly tell you about some of the things I do know.
    Hospital chaplains MUST maintain a certain level of sensitivity and
gentleness, and they've got to ready for just about anything. Like
other chaplains, the hospital chaplain will confront and be greeted by
people of all walks of life. Generally, many of these are suffering or
hurting in some way or another. The chaplain must be ready at all
times to consult and comfort these wonderful people.
    At times, especially depending on the type of environment you are
in, the hospital chaplain may face danger and risk, Sometimes on a
frequent basis. The chaplain must be well trained to deal with all
forms of attack and confusion as best possible. Hospital chaplains are
definitely different types of people. They seem to always smile at you,
even when you really don't "deserve" it.
    Emory says that the requirements are similar to prison and
military chaplaincy, involving a couple of degrees in religion and
education as well as some time in and field time.
    I cannot describe the feelings that are in me concerning the
amazement I experience with each and every day and night. What a
wonderfully miraculous thing this all is. I am so very pleased that I
followed my call to serve.

    Thank you Rev. Amy Long for everything.

        Dr. Aaron Norris

Master of Chaplaincy Studies Lesson 6

Police, Prison and Emergency Response Chaplain hold a very unique
position. Unlike most other environments in which a chaplain may find
him/herself, this environment is one in which the chaplain will likely
be put in dangers way at times.

The chaplain in these positions will inherently be trained to help
people in dire need and will often be placed in positions which will
test them to the very core, presenting all forms of potential attacks,
physical, verbal/mental, and spiritual. The chaplain here needs to be
able to help others and lead by example.

Unlike other forms of chaplaincy, the prison and emergency response
chaplain will need to response quickly and appropriately to stimuli in
his/her line of duty.

The requirements, as stated in the lesson, will vary by level, but
generally require evidence of related education and skills, as well as
several hours of experience or training.

I will study the topis more to understand this position better in the future.

    Aaron Norris