Background and Context

Spiritual care providers have the training and skills to address the loneliness, social isolation, disease, and unwellness plaguing many people today. Despite their preparation (most have graduate degrees), locations across the United States, and skillsets, chaplains and spiritual care providers are underutilized in the United States.

Why is this?

We propose three reasons:

  • The public has limited and inconsistent knowledge of who chaplains are.
  • People are not clear about what spiritual care is and why it may benefit them.
  • Even those who would otherwise access spiritual do not clearly understand how to do so.

A vision for spiritual care

Our vision for spiritual care is grounded in the work of chaplaincy and spiritual care. Instead of starting with the people who do the work – chaplains and spiritual care providers themselves – we start with the people who can benefit from the work and move backwards to think about the broad and diverse coalitions that can support spiritual care in many forms. This expansive approach challenges people with the title “chaplain” or “spiritual care provider” to be laser focused on the differences they want to make for care recipients in collaboration with other care professionals. In other words, we advocate spending much less time discussing credentials and training and much more time asking care recipients how chaplains can best serve them.

Outcomes of our strategic vision

  • Consistent knowledge in the public about what spiritual care is and how to access it
  • Increased knowledge of and access to chaplaincy in its traditional settings (e.g., healthcare, corrections, etc.)
  • New business models that financially sustain the work of chaplaincy in new settings
  • Business models that financially sustain the work of chaplaincy in legacy settings
  • Ongoing, practical collaboration between chaplaincy “supply” (educators, endorsers, etc.) and “demand” (recipients of care)
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