From police officers to those who are incarcerated, the Chaplain Certification Program is about helping people in special circumstances with special ministry needs. Training is open to all WELS members, both lay members and called workers, with a heart for meeting the spiritual needs of people in circumstances that require particular spiritual care. Specific areas of ministry include those in prison, hospitals, and nursing homes; the military and their families; and public servants such as police officers and firemen and women.
The Commission on Special Ministries established this program because many healthcare facilities, jails, prisons, and military bases are tightening their requirements for ministry in their facilities, especially if the pastor or layperson wants to reach out to non-members.
Chaplain Certification Program courses can be taken online through Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. There are four required courses—Communicating Forgiveness, A Scriptural Approach to Addiction Counseling, Your Chaplaincy and Ethical Issues, and Chaplaincy Seminar—and four electives with emphases on prison ministry, ministry to the military, and ministry to the aging.
DiAnn Krigbaum, a retired police officer, was not only served by a chaplain during her time on the police force, but she also got her certification to serve as a chaplain after she retired. She tells her story in the latest issues of His Hands, the WELS Commission on Special Ministries newsletter.
When her own family experience a crisis and she didn’t know who to call, she found help through a chaplain. She writes:
“As the situation escalated, the social worker told me to call 911. I couldn’t. I froze. I was the police! I was supposed to help solve and fix problems. My mind was racing. What would my coworkers and supervisors think of me? The enormous shame and pain from loss and failure left me unable to move.
“The collateral damage severely wounded every member of my family. I nearly lost my job. Had God abandoned us?
“But God did not forget about me and my family. He appeared ‘undercover’ in the form of a chaplain. My pastor at the time was also a volunteer police chaplain. He came to my rescue by repeatedly reminding me that God was not trying to harm me but to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
“By God’s grace, I survived in my career until age 50, when I retired with a police pension and sufficient means to take care of my family as a single mother.
“That’s when my pastor asked me to take chaplain courses with him through Martin Luther College. He suggested it would help my faith grow and allow others to learn from my experiences.
“In an online forum with other pastors and lay students, I was able to share my experiences as a police officer and spiritually wounded WELS member. This provided healing, learning, spiritual growth, and friendships with many Christian friends and called workers. In 2014 I received my Chaplain Certificate from Martin Luther College.”
Learn more about becoming a chaplain at wels.net/chaplains. The next online class, “The Spiritual Side of PTSD,” taught by Paul Ziemer, WELS national civilian chaplain to the military, will begin in January 2018. A limited amount of financial aid is available from the Lutheran Military Support Group for WELS military contact pastors to take chaplain certification courses. Read the rest of Krigbaum’s story at wels.net/special-ministries.
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Volume 104, Number 11
Issue: November 2017
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