BU theology professor to blaze new paths in chaplaincy education

As previously reported, Professor Shelly Rambo of the Boston University School of Theology recently was awarded $500,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation to study the present and future of chaplaincy education. BU Today has published a new article on Professor Rambo’s research:

“Religious leadership in the United States in the future is going to look something like chaplaincy,” she predicts, with more Americans shunning organized religion and houses of worship. People will rub elbows with clergy not in church, temple, and mosque, but “in places like hospitals, disaster areas…the military, prisons. Did you know there are airport chaplains?”

Recognizing this trend, the Henry Luce Foundation has given Rambo a three-year, $500,000 grant to study, with 18 other theology institutions, the best ways to educate these future foot soldiers of God. The partner institutions range “from evangelical, fundamentalist schools to interfaith schools to Presbyterian schools,” she says.

Rambo says participants will “talk about how we train chaplains. What’s the skill set” needed to do a chaplain’s job in the various institutions that employ them. If an employer needs chaplains to do certain things, “is the skill set of chaplains and what we’re training them to do aligning with their employer demands?”

That’s trickier than it sounds, and not simply because training chaplains was an afterthought to training pastors until recently, she says. Ministering in a house of worship, clergy can count on most of their flock being of that denomination. But in a hospital, prison, or the military, chaplains will encounter people of varying religious beliefs, or no belief, requiring that they be versed in pluralism and how to find resources outside their own denomination.

Read more at BU Today.