Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bringers of Hope; Companions in Despair

One of my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) supervisors, Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, taught me that a critical role of chaplains is to be bringers of hope.  It was a challenge to figure out what this meant to a non-theist like me.

The Rev. Patty Franz, then a hospice chaplain, was a guide.  I asked her what one said to a dying person when you yourself had no clarity about what happens after death.  She told me to ask patients what they imagined would happen.  In time, I saw myself not bringing hope but drawing out the hope that was already within others.

Candidates preparing for their MFC (Ministerial Fellowship Committee) interviews are frequently told that the MFC is looking for "ministerial presence."  Is the candidate able to minister to the MFC?  Is the candidate someone that the MFC members would like to have as their minister?

When I was preparing for my MFC interview, I certainly had my bouts of fear and despair.  Before and during the interview, I had moments of high anxiety. How does one bring hope and be a companion to despair when one is feeling hopeless and afraid?

Before reading my answers, I recommend you reflect on your own answers.  What's below worked for me, but each of us has within ourselves the answers to these questions.

I found myself asking for help and guidance.  There's a long list of UU and non-UU ministers and lay persons who supported me.

For some reason, I am reminded of my work on a unit for persons with serious psychiatric illnesses.  I was frightened.  Yet, I came to learn that I was not alone, that others "had my back."

When you go in for your MFC interview, there will be a whole bunch of folk who will have your back.  The members of the Committee are not nearly as frightening as they may appear in your imagination.  They have your and UUism's best interest at heart.  Bring the hope that is within you and draw out the hope that is within them.

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