For Muslims pursuing the chaplaincy field, a new training program has recently launched in Minnesota, home to 150,000 Muslims. The program educates and guides participants on how to achieve a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) certification. Hospitals and other large institutions seek out chaplains with certificates while some chaplain jobs, such as in universities and police departments, have their own training programs. To date there are just eight Muslims in the nation who have completed the CPE certification process.
Imam Sharif Abdirahman Mohamed, co-founder of Open Path Resources, the Minneapolis nonprofit that created the program, makes the point that chaplains don’t just work in hospitals but also in the military, police forces, corrections facilities and universities. The position requires both counseling skills as well as a knowledge of the sector the chaplain is working in. It also often requires offering spiritual support to people of other faiths.
According to the Star Tribune, there currently is a “glaring gap” in certified Muslim chaplains for hospitals, universities and correctional centers. The Association of Muslim Chaplains, along with Boston University School of Medicine, released a survey this spring on Muslim chaplains in America which found many “challenges” including the need for more “strong Muslim institutions” to conduct training and provide “financial support, personal support, gender expectations and the social climate.”
During a recent training class, Michael Van Keulen, co-director of Open Path Resources, advised the group that “you will be challenged” but “we will give you tools and you will bring tools of your own.”