22 Sep Chaplains bring calm during times of uncertainty
Recognizing that healing from trauma and facing difficulties sometimes has a powerful spiritual component, at the beginning of 2020 CHRIS 180 expanded its services to form the Institute for Spiritual Health and Wellness. In addition to placing Clinical Pastoral Education residents in local hospitals the Institute can periodically assign chaplain interns to different community programs within CHRIS 180. The job of these chaplains is not to make believers out of the people we serve, but to serve and be a companion and guide for people to help them find their own unique path of spiritual health and healing. The chaplaincy residents and interns are committed to complimenting the other facets of CHRIS 180 programming through adding the spiritual dimension as an option and a support. The Institute is also available to the staff of CHRIS 180.
This summer the Institute was able to support the work of four chaplain interns in three CHRIS 180 community programs. The chaplain interns were assigned to the SPOT, our drop-in center for youth experiencing homelessness, the Westside Empowerment Center for adults facing physical and mental health challenges and the At Promise Youth & Community Center. Reports of the experience from these various assignments have been very positive, and it was life changing for the chaplain interns. We asked two of our interns, to share their perspectives on the months they spent helping both CHRIS 180 staff and those we serve.
“As a chaplain intern I was able to sit with, listen to and provide care as needed to many of the young adults that the drop-in center serves. That care could be based around spirituality and religion or one of the social services provided by the center. The staff at the drop-in center made it a seamless transition and integrated me quickly as part of the team. Reflecting on the summer, one of the many things of which I’m thankful for is that I will be able to take the relationships that I’ve made forward with me into my next ministry. I learned a lot from the stories that I heard and from the people that I met and for whom I provided care. The young adults taught me what it was like to live on the streets of Atlanta, and some even shared what it was like to go through life with a mental illness. I pray that moving forward both the staff at the drop-in center and the young adults who I worked with know that what they taught me is invaluable and that they gave me things this summer that I never would have expected. It is an experience that looking back I wouldn’t trade for anything.” – Patrick Lane
“I am from Pakistan and was placed at a largely Black populated center, where several shootings happened in the area and the victims were directly or indirectly connected to the center…unfortunately, a couple of the victims were teens. One of the young men who was brutally murdered was a very good friend of a young woman member. I was able to talk with her, walk with her through the grief alongside her, listen to her stories of their friendship and, in the end, we prayed together. This really impacted me as a minister and as a chaplain. I learned that when people mourn it is more helpful to be with them and have a sensitive ear rather than trying to give them solutions. In the past being from an engineering background I was a person who relied on facts and figures. I had always tried to help by giving solutions to people and by finding something which can fit in their lives perfectly. During some of the educational and clinical experiences, I learned that about myself. I also learned that instead of giving solutions to the problems people have, I simply need to walk with them, alongside them and give them space so they can process these things more openly. Instead of giving them a readymade answer, as a chaplain I want to empower them so when the time comes, they can find the solution by themselves.” – Salmoon Bashir
Our summer Clinical Pastoral Education program was not only beneficial for the clients, but especially for the chaplains who spent time integrating into CHRIS 180’s work and offering support and solace to both clients and staff. The Institute for Spiritual Health and Wellness provides chaplains-in-training with the opportunity to connect with real members of the Atlanta community, to meet them where they are and to guide them along their journey to spiritual wellness.
If you are interested in learning more about the Clinical Pastoral Education internship program please email our Director of the Institute for Spiritual Health and Wellness, Martha Wright, at Martha.Wright@CHRIS180.org.