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COMMUNITY CHAPLAINS OF AMERICA HELPS
WAKE FOREST, N.C., Feb. 19, 2008 – Corporate Chaplains of America is providing the tools and curriculum for church pastors to train its members to provide genuine physical, emotional, spiritual and personal care in their communities where they work, rest and play through the Community Chaplains of America program.
“While church pastors are outstanding in the efforts to provide care to their congregation, many do not have the time and ability to reach each and every member within the church, much less the community,” said Chris Hobgood, Corporate Chaplains of America vice president of chaplain and project development. “That is where laypeople can step in to fulfill the Great Commission of spreading the message of Christ beyond the church doors and into the community. The Community Chaplains of America program is a simple and effective way to train members without requiring hours of hands-on work from already busy pastors.”
The creators of Community Chaplains of America have been providing care in the workplace since 1996 through Corporate Chaplains of America. With nearly 100 chaplains, Corporate Chaplains of America serves some 600 business locations around the U.S.
“We have seen the need to provide care and support not only in the workplace but in other areas of the community,” Hobgood said. “Data from The Barna Research Group indicates that 60 percent of people do not attend church on a typical weekend. What this data indicates is that a significant majority of people encountered in the community environment have no pastor or other caregiver to turn to during a time of crisis. By training church members to adequately provide care, we can show Christ’s love through our actions and help those in the community face difficult times and situations.”
A term not often heard, a “community chaplain” is a person who reaches out to the community by building relationships with the hope of gaining permission to share the lifesaving good news of Christ in a non-threatening way. Community Chaplains of America volunteers are trained never to force this evangelistic message but to only offer it with the person’s consent.
Training to become a Community Chaplains of America volunteer is done through an Empowerment Kit which provides books, interactive workbooks and CDs for 84 hours of education. Written by seminary-trained corporate chaplains, the resources in the Kit provide step-by-step training on not only how to meet needs of people in the community, but also how to determine one’s best place to serve as a chaplain. The Kit includes a Quick Start Guide Community Chaplain Handbook, Empowerment Audio Series, Community Chaplain Training Workbook, “Caring Directions” book, “The Compass” book/CD/DVD resource, “Twenty Words That Will Change Your Life Forever” book and “C-Change” audio book.
The Empowerment Kit was created as a self-study to be purchased by individual laypeople and done at one’s own time and pace. The Kit can also be used in adult Bible studies, small groups or discipleship classes. Upon completion of the training materials within the Empowerment Kit, those seeking to become an official, qualified Community Chaplains of America volunteer are required to be commissioned by their local church, attesting to the person’s character and spiritual belief.
“The commissioning process is an important step for each chaplain,” Hobgood said. “It confirms to Community Chaplains of America and other fellow chaplains that the person and church embrace our official statement of faith and that the church is officially ‘sending’ the chaplain out into their community as a trained representative.”
Community Chaplains of America volunteers are encouraged to serve as a chaplain in an area where they are active. This can include their own workplaces, the soccer fields, airports, coffee shops, nursing homes and many more. The “Caring Directions” book in the Empowerment Kit provides examples of “simple,” “moderately complex” and “complex” places to serve, helping each person find a place that corresponds with the amount of time and energy they are capable of providing.
“Our vision is to have thousands of chaplains serving millions of people by 2012,” said Mark Cress, founder and president of Corporate Chaplains of America. “While community chaplains are not professional counselors, they can offer care to people who may not have anyone else. They can be the light in the darkness for a person in need.”
A membership is available for a yearly fee to an interactive Web site with discussion groups, prayer support, a network of chaplain contacts and additional materials. Membership is not required but highly recommended to provide support, education and advice from other trained chaplains.
Based in Wake Forest, N.C., Corporate Chaplains of America was founded in 1996 to provide genuine "Caring in the Workplace," while following a structured business plan built upon process management principles. The full-time, long-term, career chaplains hold seminary-level or higher degrees and pursue certification through 154 hours of continuing education within the first year of tenure, helping combine workplace experience with professional chaplaincy training. For more information on Corporate or Community Chaplains of America, visit www.chaplain.org.
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NOTE TO EDITORS: Additional information can be found at www.alrcnewskitchen.com/chaplains. To interview a representative from Community Chaplains of America, contact Kristin U. Cole at 972.267.1111 or [email protected].
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