This past June, chaplains from around the United States and Canada convened for Chaplains Training 2019. This annual event provides education and connection for CRC chaplains in the form of worship, fellowship, and keynote speakers. For many chaplains serving in areas where CRC churches are scarce, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with denominational roots. For others, it is a chance to talk about their ministry with other chaplains. It is also a chance to renew one’s spirit and prepare for another year of ministry. This year’s Chaplain's Training held to these core purposes while also bringing positive changes.
Tools for Care
One new innovation this year was a session titled Tools for Care. During this time, four chaplains gave brief, TEDx-style presentations in which they shared a story, resource, or innovation from their own ministry setting. These chaplains, coming from a variety of areas, presented a wide range of tools, from self-care techniques to spiritual care forms to how to work in pluralistic environments. These topics were meaningful, engaging, and highly relevant to chaplains.
"Tools for Care was most meaningful by far,” said one attendee, “because the presenters were chaplains who were subject matter experts and directly applied their materials to the chaplain audience. I suggest we do more of this type of presentation from our own chaplain leaders.”
Our post-event survey reflected this sentiment, as 97% of attendees marked this session as helpful. In the future, we hope to further develop Tools for Care, enabling our chaplains to share and find new ministry resources more effectively.
Another area that made this year’s Training different was how many aspiring chaplains participated. Of our 130 attendees, 20 were seminary students or people working towards endorsement. Most years, we get five of these people at the most, so this year was a very different experience. Many chaplains relished the experience of meeting so many new and excited people, and of being able to share about their ministries.
“Definite movement in the right direction,” said one person. “Especially welcoming new chaplains and cross-ministry calling shared experiences.”
As the landscape of ministry changes, more people have shown an interest in becoming chaplains. We are excited to see so many aspiring ministers desiring to go into this field, and welcome many who are coming from other areas of ministry. We look forward to continuing this tradition in the future.
Last year, we began a tradition of remembering CRC chaplains who passed away in the previous year. In 2019, we wanted to make the experience more meaningful for everyone involved. One chaplain, Rev. Elizabeth Guillaume-Koene, created a memorial tree from which people could hang notes, stories, and words of care for the families of deceased chaplains. After the event, we sent the notes to the chaplains’ families, and they have been very thankful for them.
One spouse shared, “I was touched to the heart by your way of remembering the chaplains who have passed on to glory this past year. That was a very thoughtful gesture. [My husband] was such a faithful member in keeping in touch, and returning to the Chaplaincy Conference every year.”
These things, plus a million small moments, made this years’ Chaplains Training memorable. As we look to the future, we hope to build on them to make the experience even more meaningful, educational, and supportive for our chaplains.
Did you attend Chaplains Training 2019? What were some of your favorite moments?