What About Chaplaincy?

Not all clergy lead worship communities. Some choose the path of chaplaincy.

Professional chaplains offer spiritual care to all who are in need and have specialized education to mobilize spiritual resources so that patients cope more effectively. What with Paganism being a minority community, most of the people you serve would be on a path quite different from your own.

Chaplains are certified by any of several national organizations. For a Pagan in the USA, this might be either the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education or the Association of Professional Chaplains. The full Chaplaincy program can take as long as three years. You will be required to take some formal training, do hands-on experience and undergo much introspection. The first segment takes three months and is called CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education. This part is a requirement for Unitarian Universalist and other mainstream clergy.

Chaplains find most of their employment in health related fields. Some work in prisons or the military. They are called upon to provide spiritual care, and their clients are most likely in distress.

Being a chaplain is a lot about listening. You are expected to maintain confidentiality and provide a supportive context within which patients can discuss their concerns. You would be professionally accountable to your own faith group, your certifying chaplaincy organization, and your employing institution.

The full chaplaincy program takes three years. Unitarian Universalist clergy have all been through at least the initial three-month segment. You can ask any one of them what their experience was like.

Professional chaplains are theologically and clinically trained clergy or lay persons whose work reflects:

  • Sensitivity to multi-cultural and multi-faith realities.
  • Respect for patientsí spiritual or religious preferences.
  • Understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and their caregivers.
  • Knowledge of healthcare organizational structure and dynamics.
  • Accountability as part of a professional patient care team.
  • Accountability to their faith groups.
Not everyone is cut out to be a chaplain. You can google keywords "chaplain jobs" and see who is utilizing chaplains and what their expectations are.


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