The role of each chaplain is a ministry of presence and giving attention to the spiritual, emotional, physical dimension. Included are times for direct service ministry to individuals for assistance through grieving processes and other personal concerns. We listen to the angry, the frightened, the lonely, the poor, those who are hurting in one way or another. It may be a long session or a brief encounter. Either is an opportunity for genuine human contact. Pastoral counseling addresses multiple issues of the inmates/detainees and may bring temporary relief. Time in jail/detention center can change lives for the better or for worse. A jail chaplain can help tip the scales in a positive direction by a simple message of encouragement and hope." One must remember that no matter the crime, human dignity has not been forfeited. To recognize and to respect each person is essential for a chaplain.
As our goal is not to do it all by ourselves! We invite the community to join with us as volunteers who assist us with a variety of religious services. We support inmate rehabilitation through spiritual, educational, and vocational programs. Our essential goal is to bring hope and light into darkness.
A jail chaplain work and function under stress is learned and practiced. This personal strength comes through prayer and meditation. Taking steps to balance one’s personal life of work and play is a help. A sensitivity to all races regardless of background and personal history is necessary. A basic understanding and appreciation of all faith groups is an ecumenical approach. Every person has a right to worship in his/her own belief system.
There is a level of competency needed for chaplains working in the correctional system. Included are personal, theological, and professional competencies. A deep commitment to those we work with, evidence of personal integrity, and self-reflection are qualities of personal competence. Strength to work under stress and to cope with crisis is also important. To be aware of religious values of hope, trust, and forgiveness is essential. Also, to have firm grasp of the theological issues relating to the correctional setting such a spirituality, scriptures, and ethics is among the expectations of theological competence. Professional competence includes pastoral care skills and an understanding of the role of chaplaincy. Other abilities to strive for a sensitivity, communication skills, and an adaptation for presiding, organizing, and facilitating worship and religious activity.
Lifelong learning and updating are essential in this field. We can continue our growth by learning more about the factors involved in the emergence of behavioral problems. Psychosocial dynamics and cultural and ethnic differences affect ministerial practices in jail settings. It is important to update consistently through seminars, conferences, and programs that especially address these matters.