I am happy to be amongst those who dislike organized religion. Even though I have been trained as a pastor, I have worked hard to stay away from the church.
I became a counsellor and a chaplain because I was called to be present with people who struggle to find meaning.
In that calling, I have learned to despise something more than organized religion, namely unorganized religion. I have bore witness to the pain and tragedy surrounding religious addiction and those who have used religion to justify doing bad things.
As much as we complain about the justice system, the health care system, the education system, and social services, we forget these systems protect us.
Without them, doctors would not need a license to practice, counsellors would have free reign with their vulnerable clients, the righteous would take justice into their own hands based on how deeply victimized they felt, and religious leaders would not have standards of training or ethical guidelines to guide their fellowship.
Chaplains in Canada are identified and held to account by the denominations through which they have been trained, or who hold credentials. Provinces do not issue licenses to marry to those who are not identified as endorsed by a denomination.
Chaplaincy is more commonly referred to as Spiritual Care. This differs from a Pastor who represents an organization. Chaplains are not in the business of serving the denomination, but rather the people who are disoriented by life events.
Chaplains have a structure and training which permits them to access people and act as a container until they can function again. People may have experiences in an altered state that require someone who understands what is happening and how to help with resources if needed.
Connect this back to you, what being a chaplain has meant to you, and how you’ve made a difference by answering the call.
In a previous post, I told the story of two sons, two brothers. I’ve also shared my first experiences on the job. For Bill, Mark and Kelly, there is no doubt they are bewildered and filled with huge pain in which answers are not available. Life, death, the meaning of life, the meaning of suffering, why am I here, what is love – these are all spiritual questions and they come to the surface when people are living life, and trauma occurs.
Never is there a moment when we feel so alone. Never is there a moment when we are more in need of someone to stand with us. Chaplains will stand with you. That is our difference.