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Gallup recently released the results of a survey that they conducted in the United States for the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at Brandeis University. 1 out of 4 survey respondents said they had been served by a chaplain. Did the chaplain encounter leave a positive impression? 44% indicated very valuable and another 32% answered moderately valuable. Only 7% said it was not valuable at all.

Lydia Saad, the Director of U.S. Social Research at Gallup, wrote:

The experience is also unique in that, occurring as it does outside of a religious setting, it often connects faith leaders with nonreligious people -- constituting 42% of those who have ever interacted with a chaplain. As such, chaplaincy provides an important mechanism for people from diverse religious orientations to receive spiritual care in a moment of need and reportedly in a way that, for most who’ve experienced it, is compassionate and helpful rather than unwelcome or uncomfortable.

I experienced this interaction and care firsthand. Several weeks ago. I participated in a virtual visit with my wife Kristen’s palliative care doctor, as well as a chaplain from the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. After 30 years of providing pastoral care as a chaplain, it was so interesting to be on the receiving end. I was impressed how well the doctor and chaplain worked together to listen, assess, and provide care for Kristen. I found out later that the chaplain was a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) resident at UC San Diego Health. The world became smaller when I realized that the resident’s CPE educator had assisted in my CPE residency.

What my wife and I experienced that session, it was indeed care that was “compassionate and helpful rather than unwelcome or uncomfortable.” I want to thank our CPE/PCE educators for the work that they do for their students. I also want to thank all our chaplains for their willingness to work “outside of a religious setting” to provide compassionate spiritual care to those who associate with a specific religion and those who have no association. You indeed live out “Being There in Moments That Matter.”

Grace and Peace,

Tim Rietkerk

Director of Chaplaincy and Care


Thank you for this personal and moving story about the impact of chaplains. I just said a prayer for you and your wife. 

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