Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

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. 


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