If you ask any person what they know about the chaplain’s job, you are unlikely to get a satisfactory answer. What’s unique about the work of the chaplain?
A possible answer: a chaplain is a person who joins someone on their journey of life. When looking for a more systematic definition, we might say that chaplains are clergy who have been professionally trained to offer faith-based guidance to individuals when they are suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They are pastors who have specialized in various areas of public and denominational ministry and work on the front lines.
From September 18 to 21, 46 Seventh-day Adventist chaplains and interns met at the Bogenhofen Seminary in St. Peter am Hart, Austria, for a chaplaincy training course. The event was organized by Chaplaincy Ministries of the Inter-European Division (EUD) of the Adventist Church. Representatives from Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Portugal, and Slovakia participated in the 4-day training.
Ivan Omana, the Chaplaincy Ministries director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, was the main speaker.
On the first day participants learned about the foundation, history, and policies of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries. They also reviewed how to deal with grief and use it as an opportunity to share the gospel.
In the evening of September 18, participants watched the film Tuesdays with Morrie. During the following days, participants discussed its content and themes relevant to their ministries, organizers said.
Tuesday afternoon was time for an excursion. Burghausen Castle is supposedly the longest castle complex in the world and is located only 30 minutes from Bogenhofen. One thousand meters (3,280 feet) long, it was the perfect place for a relaxing walk and socializing, as well as making new friends.
On September 20, Ivan Omana and Ventsislav Panayotov presented the topics of compassionate connected care and faith development. After them, Klaus Schmitz from Waldfriede Hospital in Germany shared the work of the chaplaincy team at that Adventist-managed Berlin hospital. A very important part of the program was the two afternoon sessions, during which the chaplains had the opportunity to talk about the challenges in their ministries and discuss solutions.
On the last day, participants confirmed their commitment and reaffirmed the validity of the word of Jesus in their lives and ministry: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:35, 36, NKJV).