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.

Search This Blog

Friday, February 22, 2013

Final essay for the Master of Chaplaincy Studies program

Final essay for the Master of the Chaplaincy Studies program.

I have been a ULC minister for about ten years and a funeral director for over thirty three years. I have always had a very strong desire to minister to people; I feel that is what led me to the funeral profession many years ago. I as a young man wished to become a minister and it was at that time I started quite by happenstance to begin my work in the funeral profession. I was torn as to what to do and asked the advice of a trusted local pastor. He suggested that maybe my ministry calling was as a funeral director and embalmer. I do find great reward in my ability to assist families at the worst time in their lives. For many years I struggled with what I felt was an additional calling. As a young man I was asked to serve as a deacon at my home church I found this to be great honor but still felt a little unsure. I felt I should or could be doing more with the feelings I had about serving God and His people.

 It wasn't until I discovered the ULC and the opportunity to become an ordained clergy that I started to feel part of a larger plan for my life. I was at first hesitant to tell anyone about my ordination. But in the fullness of time it became apparent that I had made the right choice. It started when an un-churched family who had no clergy to perform a funeral service for them and asked me to say a few words on the deceased's behalf. They had no idea that I was in fact a minister as I did not share it with them; they just felt that I had a reassuring presence and felt comfortable with me officiating at the services. It was then that I really began to take my ministry seriously. I have since officiated at many services, mostly for families that are lost without a church and also for families that could not afford the "honorarium" that many of today's clergy require. I have never asked for a stipend from any family I am asked to serve. I am also very active as a per diem employee for our local hospice as a trained chef I work in the kitchen at the local hospice care center. It was there that I found the work of the hospice chaplains to be very inspiring. Their ability to help the dying and their families arrive at a place of acceptance and to be able to come to grips with the end of life issues was a wonderful thing to witness. It is because of my background and this exposure to the work of chaplains that I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a chaplain.
 I found this course to be very helpful. There is a lot of good information imparted in this course. It was however in my case a reaffirmation of many of the things that I have been practicing my entire professional life. Due to my training and years of interacting with families and clergy I found this course to be a good source of review and a helpful resource for my future endeavors. I hope that I can continue to be a help to the bereaved families I come in contact with. I hope to be able to enlarge my ministry as a funeral director and embalmer and a clergy person. I would like to establish a ministry as a funeral officiant. To be able to serve  un-churched families in this time of anguish.  I feel it is very important that people have a sense of compassion as their earthly existence draws to a close and as a person with a Christian Universalist view, I feel that no person or their family should have to come to the end of their loved ones life and not have a sense of peace and closure at the time they lay their loved ones to rest. Jesus came to save all mankind not just those that profess a certain dogma or doctrine. I believe that salvation is only by faith in God and was finalized by Jesus Christ "who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1Tim 2:6). I feel that many people today are lost and searching and it isn't until they are faced with a tragedy that the look for a higher power to find consolation. That is why I feel the work as a chaplain is so important. Many times a hurting person does not know where to turn. Often times they may be intimidated by going to a church or feel uncomfortable with organized religion. A thoughtful and compassionate chaplain can be that bridge between the lost ones and the Lord. The work of a chaplain should be as an instrument of God, to do the work of Gods mercy. It is clearly stated in the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 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, 36 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.'

37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40 "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.' Matthew 25 34:40

I think one way to improve this course would be to give a little more information about what is needed to actually become a chaplain. I have been researching this and it appears that there is a lot more education needed to obtain a position as a chaplain in an institutional setting. You could probably work as a chaplain in a volunteer setting after completing the entire Seminary Chaplain program, but I doubt it would suffice for say a hospital or even a hospice position.

 As I continue on with my studies at ULC Seminary I have found a new sense of enthusiasm for my role as a minister, and have gained confidence in my abilities to serve all of Gods people.  I also hope to branch out and possibly become a hospice chaplain or possibly start a nursing home chaplaincy of my own.

Peace be with you,

Rev. Steve Harris

"Dreams are illustrations...from the book your soul is writing about you."

No comments: