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Homework and Essays
Debra A. Miller
Master of Chaplaincy Studies
Lesson 1 Introduction and Background to Chaplaincy
What I know of chaplains

I worked with a chaplain when I volunteered as a grief support facilitator with Visiting Nurses Association of Hospice. The chaplain was a woman who coordinated and taught bereavement classes and lead grief support groups and she assisted at the bedside of dying patients . The chaplain also officiated at funerals and was part of a team that writes a monthly bereavement newsletter.
I worked for another chaplain in the capacity of an abider at a senior home. This chaplain was a woman as well. She taught classes on abiding (assisting the dying at the bedside) and coordinated volunteers. Part of this chaplain's duties was to write homily's and hold church services for the residents of the home.
I have had several experiences with chaplains in a hospital setting and within a fire department. In both of these instances the chaplain was a man. The chaplain of the hospital would give last rites to patients who were dying and counsel the family. The chaplain of the fire department would assist at funerals, notify families when there was a death, and counsel firefighters during times of tragedy.

Does your faith group or religion have chaplains or not?

Growing up Evangelical Lutheran the pastor would assume responsibility for the well being of the congregants and officiate at weddings and funerals. The pastor would also make well visits to the home and visit the congregants that were in the hospital. Baptisms and Catechisms were lead by the pastor.
Mid life I attended an Episcopal Church. Much the same as the Evangelical Lutheran pastor, the reverend would attend to all the needs of the congregants.
Later in life on a quest to find the core of my spirituality, I have encountered many chaplains in various life situations from performing marriage ceremonies to end of life celebrations, baptisms to home blessings. I've encountered chaplains that taught spirituality workshops, performed blessing of the rings ceremonies, and assisted at bar mitzvahs.

What is your view of chaplains and their role in society today?

Chaplains play a very important part in society today for the transient and those people on a quest for a better understanding of spirituality not sought in conventional houses of worship. For those people who commune with nature on a more spiritual level, those who are looking inward for answers to the mysteries of life, the chaplains non-limiting knowledge of world religions offers a safe place to explore and ask questions. With so many different religions to choose from, so many quests, and so little time it can all be very confusing. Chaplains, in their diversity, speak a language that more and more people are coming to understand, they support all religions without judgment, and they allow us to open our hearts and minds to all of the possibilities that exist within this universe, time, and space.

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