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Frontiers in Buddhist Chaplaincy

May 26, 2014

I’ve been absent from the blog for a while, but have not been idle. Last semester I conducted a research study with interview subjects from among the UWest chaplaincy student and alumni cohort, with a promise to present the results on campus this spring. While conducting the study, I was also powerfully impressed by the work of my colleagues and classmates in the field. Therefore, with their help, we organized the 1st Annual Symposium for New Scholar-Practitioners in Buddhist Chaplaincy around the theme ‘Frontiers in Buddhist Chaplaincy.’ A grand name for a rather small gathering of chaplains and chaplaincy students, mostly Buddhist, that happened at University of the West on April 28, 2014. I chose the name with the aspiration that it be the first, but not the only, such gathering because I believe my friends and colleagues have a great deal of wisdom to share, wisdom that will  only grow. Below are the outcomes of this effort in the form of five videos. I apologize for the quality. It is only through the dedication of our students that they were recorded at all when our trained audio/video staff member hurt his back. However, they provide a good taste of the state of new practitioners in the emerging field of Buddhist chaplaincy. I welcome all discussion on the subject and am already taking recommendations for next year’s symposium. Enjoy.

“A Hospital Sadhana: Chaplaincy as Buddhist Practice”

Holly received her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Naropa University and her Master of Divinity in Buddhist Chaplaincy from University of the West. She has worked in hospice, early childhood education, community organizing, as a chaplain intern at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, and is currently mid-way through a chaplain residency at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, OR.

“Prayer in a Healthcare Context” by Katherine Rand, MPP, and questions with Holly and Katherine

Katherine is a second-year PhD student in practical theology at Claremont School of Theology, focusing on clinical spiritual care. Katherine has a 20+ year ecumenical study and practice of the Dharma and she previously trained in hospice as well as chaplaincy with the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. Katherine is particularly interested in healthcare ethics, religious pluralism, and interculturality.

Panel on Military Chaplaincy with Chaplain (CPT) Christopher Mohr, Chaplain (CPT) ‘Tommy’ Nguyen, and Chaplain Candidate (1st LT) Guan Zhen

These panelists represent three of the small handful of Buddhist chaplains in the U.S. military, representing the Army Reserves and Wisconsin Army National Guard. Questions and answers from the moderator (Monica Sanford) are followed by those from the audience.

“Hybrid Identity, Hybrid Ritual, Hybrid Care” by Michael Salonius

Michael is a trauma therapist and Jewish chaplaincy student at the Academy of Jewish Religion (CA). Michael trained in Rinzai Zen and Jewish mysticism and currently works with veterans with PTSD and addiction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1TQPJi1AJY

“Is All Care Spiritual? Chaplaincy Research in the Academy” by Monica Sanford, MDiv

Monica is a PhD student at Claremont School of Theology in the Practical Theology, Spiritual Care & Counseling Program. She has a Master of Divinity in Buddhist Chaplaincy from University of the West (2013) and a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Monica is interested in advancing the state of research and scholarship in the ‘theology’ of Buddhist spiritual care.

Note: Because the slides are not clearly visible in the video, you may access them and follow along here: Is All Care Spiritual by Monica Sanford All rights are reserved. Do not copy, distribute, or alter without the permission of the author.

Special thanks to Jascha Ephram and Anthuan Vuong who helped video record the symposium and to Glenn Dunki-Jacobs at the UWest Office of Extended Studies who edited the videos and put them online. Also thank you to all the presenters and panelists, attendees both physical and spiritual, and donors who contributed funds to support this effort, particularly for the Community Grant from the UWest Student Government. Your assistance and support made this event possible. Thank you to General Services for setting up the venue and providing refreshments. Last, but far from least, thank you to Rev. (Dr.) Danny Fisher and Dr. Kenneth Locke, who together founded the Buddhist Chaplaincy program at UWest in 2008, without which this would not have been possible. We bow deeply in gratitude.

May the merit of this event help alleviate the suffering of sentient beings above, below, north, south, east, and west, near and far, in the past, present, and future, in this realm and others, until such time as all achieve enlightenment.

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