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, April 24, 2012

Master of Chaplaincy Studies

Below is my end paper for my course

Master of Chaplaincy Studies

By: Crystal Curasi


What is a chaplain? The dictionary defines Chaplain as a cleric who is attached to an institution an example is (minister, hospital).  The chaplain is a minister that serves a congregation on the move. They are found in hospitals, emergency services (Fire, Police, and Military), truck stops and prisons. Chaplains can now also be found in the mainstream places such as resorts, businesses and schools.  The chaplain is a member of their particular church but must have knowledge on all religion and practices. They minister and serve others. There is a verse in the bible which I believe describes perfectly the role of a chaplain Matthew 25:34-40"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' The chaplain was originally based on the Christian faith it is now open to all religions.

The duty of chaplain existed long before a word to describe it. The roman legion used priests in the armies for their soldiers. Druids were chaplains. Monks were also chaplains. St. Francis Assissi performed tasks in which modern day chaplains would perform. As of today the oldest recognized chaplain was in the military. Records have been found dating back to 8th century British navy. Reverend Jacob Duché (1738-1798), rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia ministered to Congress in an unofficial capacity until he was elected the body's first chaplain on July 9, 1776. From here chaplains went into hospitals, hospice, schools, commercial resorts, business and sports. The chaplain's role varies in each location. The military chaplain serves families that are dealing with separations, death of loved ones, or serious injury or trauma. Chaplains in hospitals have to help patients and loved ones cope with medical diagnoses, death, and grief. A prison chaplain would help prisoners with guilt, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and other issues. Chaplains found in emergency services would let loved ones know of a death that occurred for family members or accident victims. Chaplains will also comfort the grieving, counsel people, and some may even marry couples.  Chaplains are found in any area where a need is seen or where people can be helped.   

While ministering and serving others the chaplain may use many resources. It is advised that they have a study to use for devotionals. This should be a place for the chaplain to keep up on current events and studies to use when counseling a person. It should also have shelves and reference books. Music can be used in the study for worship purposes. The study should have good lighting and comfortable chair. It will have a computer. When out visiting the chaplain should have a portable tool kit with them. My book bag includes tissues, a compact bible, my i-phone, business cards, notepad and pen, gum, antibacterial sanitizer, and correspondence supplies. The most important tool to have with you always a Chaplain is prayer. While the resources chaplains use are important more important are the God given talents.  
There are many skills that chaplains need to have in order to be successful in their ministry.  The most important skill they can have is listening skills. Chaplains need to be able to active listen to the counselee. Active listening involves going into session without preconceived notions or bias. The chaplain should be aware of the persons tone, emotions, inflection, and speed of conversations. It is a skill that requires concentration and the ability to feedback to the person what they have said as well as what impact it has. Not every conversation a chaplain has will require action of the chaplain. There are times when listening is enough. There may be times a chaplain is asked something outside of spiritual matters such as health matters, psychological, financial or legal issues. The best way to stay out of trouble is being honest and referring them to a specialist in that area. Listening is a key skill that helps the chaplain gain the persons trust. Another skill that is important to chaplaincy is empathy. The chaplain must be able to empathize with people about their current situation. They must also be good observers (or people watchers) as I like to call them. They must be able to see warning signs that a person has a need. These are just a few skills necessary when becoming a chaplain.
 Besides skill the chaplain will have to meet certain religious and educational qualifications. The religious qualifications are based on biblical principals found in verses such as Matthew chapter seven versus twenty or first Timothy or Titus. These verses speak of the call which is noted by outward actions of the one receiving the call. They will also met character qualifications of faithfulness, have a good character testimony, be sound in doctrine (their own beliefs and other religions) and able to teach. I am a member of the Church of the Nazarene and they requirements to become a chaplain are as follows "Those interested in full-time hospital chaplaincy must complete the full course of study prescribed for their ordination orders. They must be ordained deacons or elders in the Church of the Nazarene, complete four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), and obtain ecclesiastical endorsement from Chaplaincy Services. Those seeking ecclesiastical endorsement or registration with the Church of the Nazarene to work in Hospice or in a part-time or volunteer capacity, should contact Chaplaincy Services for more additional information." These qualifications are necessary to make sure the chaplains ministry is the best it can be and is effective in helping people they are caring for. The work of a chaplain is a true calling from God and is very demanding but rewarding work.
This above paper is what I learned during my Master of Chaplaincy studies. I learned the history of chaplains as well as their roles and what skills are necessary to be a successful chaplain. I liked how the course had me actively research different types of chaplains and requirements for what I am trying to do specifically within my denomination. I do not see any areas where this course could be improved. What I plan to take away from this course is how to apply my gifts that God has given to me with the knowledge this course has given me to be a successful chaplain in a hospital setting.
 Rev. Crystal Curasi

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