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Hi, everyone:

I had some questions (mostly pragmatics) regarding CPE for any of you who've gone through it. I finished my M.Div. in 2011. I moved back home--a couple states away--and fell into a vocational black hole. I moved halfway across the country after a couple of years when offered a job, and I've been teaching English up here since. I think I've been running from "the call" for a while now, and I'm feeling curious about chaplaincy. But I'm having a hard time navigating the ACPE site and understanding the requirements. 

Some chaplain friends of mine said that some programs require--for a year-long stipended residency--one or two units of CPE already under your belt. But they also said some don't. In divinity school, we had two units of ministerial internships in which we had weekly meetups with a group to share case studies and reflections, much in the way one does in CPE. I was a chaplain on the university's campus. I wasn't sure if that might count. I'm concerned that I'm not in a financially secure enough position to add CPE to my schedule if it's not stipended, but am wondering how others managed their situations. I certainly wish I were. 

One final question: do you have thoughts or suggestions re: the type of CPE program? I've heard that in addition to hospital/hospice positions, there are parish-based opportunities, opportunities to work with the aged/elderly, and opportunities to work with folks with disabilities. All of these sound especially appealing to me. 

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts. Most grateful.

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That's heartening! Thank you so much for your reply. 

i would love a parish-based or university-based chaplaincy, but I also have a heart for the aged, and one of my best friends (one of the chaplain buddies I mentioned) has been working in that capacity since we were in div school way back when.

I'm a bit nervous about this--I'm a somewhat shy introvert, despite being deeply drawn to people and caring about them--but I figure if I can walk into a college classroom every day and teach for hours, I should be able to get over that initial trepidation for something I'm even more excited about.

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I'm not sure what the CPE unit is for. I know what it is, but I mean what do you want to get from it, and what are you hoping to use it to move onto?

If you're looking to do a chaplaincy residency, the year long paid program, the ones that I've looked at want one unit of CPE acquired before you begin. True, perhaps there are some that don't - I imagine there are, I've just never seen them. The thing is, they're going to want ACPE accredited programs, which almost all mean that it takes place in the confines of a hospital. There are parish and even alternative programs (homeless ministry, prison, nursing homes, etc) but not all of these are accredited (probably most are). So as such, your internship courses in seminary would definitely not count.

I only know of one college chaplaincy residency program and that's at Westminster College in Fulton, MO but they've already closed applications and finalized their list of finalists. They only open that process up every 2-3 years so it'll be a while before they look for another one. Georgetown has something similar but it's voluntary, though you get housing (just no board or stipend), but it's only 20/hours a week.

The ACPE website runs a list of residency programs with positions open, unfortunately not everyone publicly advertises in their directory so it's to your benefit to contact individual hospitals.


btw, I love The Little Prince and have incorporated it into a theology directed study I'm doing this semester.

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I was considering chaplaincy for a couple of reasons.

I am really drawn to the up close and personal aspect of ministry. I originally went to div school as an MTS student with the intention of pursuing a PhD after, but the ministry classes (i.e. pastoral care and homiletics) took my heart. I thought this might help me test the waters to see if chaplaincy would be a good fit for me.

I've worked in the Episcopal Church and have been prayerful lately about whether I'm feeling called to ordained ministry, and I thought this might be a good experience along the way. I know that neither of those things are necessary for the other, but I can see how the experience could be transformative. 

I guess "chaplain" is a pretty general term... Is it the case that certain institutions (campuses, residences for the aged, etc) wouldn't expect you to have actual clinical pastoral education since the focus there is on hospital environments? 

You all are helping me so much with this. I truly appreciate it.

(The Little Prince is just the best. I had to read it for a philosophy capstone class in undergrad almost a decade ago and instantly fell in love with it. I would love to be a fly on the wall of your study!)

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On 2/6/2017 at 11:15 PM, besixdouze said:

I guess "chaplain" is a pretty general term... Is it the case that certain institutions (campuses, residences for the aged, etc) wouldn't expect you to have actual clinical pastoral education since the focus there is on hospital environments? 

You won't need CPE for College Chaplaincy/Ministry. You definitely need CPE for hospital chaplaincy "clinical" chaplaincies (aged homes, group homes etc.) as well as for ordination in many denominations.

Heres my understanding of CPE units: You do "unit 1" first, which is usually a Summer program although you can do a year long at many places. Unit 1 is usually what people do for their denominations ordination process. Unit 1 is also usually a prerequisite for year long CPE residencies, which qualify you to be a hospital chaplain. Again, I'm not in that field, but thats my understanding of how CPE units work from friends who have done so/are chaplain

I can speak to college chaplaincy, and I worked in an Episcopalian context. You won't need CPE as a requirement for most college ministry--your seminary degree will qualify you for many positions--although CPE can only help. Many Episcopalian and other mainline chaplaincies (and there are fewer and fewer) require or prefer someone who is ordained. I have seen at least one job positing for an Episcopalian college chaplain which sought a lay person (check out the lay job listings on Episcopal Digital Network every now and then).

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