Jerral Sapienza, Chaplain Emeritus
Unity of the Valley,   Eugene, Oregon


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From the time I first began working with hospice in the early 1980's, as part of my counseling studies at Oregon State University, I often worked with hospital and hospice chaplains who were there at the bedside, too.

My own hospice work began as volunteer and advanced to where I was working with families and friends and helping them to learn more about the nature of Caregiving and Spirit and the process of simply Being Present with a friend or loved one in a time of spiritual need.

In summer 2002, I learned of the Chaplain Studies program at my church, and decided to go through the program to become a Chaplain, which I completed to become a Chaplain at Unity of the Valley. I did that for two years as an active Chaplain, then in the summer of 2005 took a sabbatical in order to travel more and be available at the church on and off as necessary.

What is a Unity Chaplain?

I wrote the "Chaplains and Chaplaincy FAQ " for our church, which I invite you to review to learn more about the basics of Unity Chaplaincy.

I also wrote a puzzle poem (a poem with the first line of the poem read vertically, giving another meaning to the words which lay on the page horizontally) entitled "What is a Unity Chaplain?" which in an abbreviated way explains what a Unity Chaplain is and does...

The essence of our work as Chaplain is to be available to hold sacred space, to listen and to pray with members of the congregation, and to be available to visit homebound members or those who find themselves in a hospital and in need of prayer and fellowship.

Along the Chaplain lines, I often do trainings and discussions related to my hospice caregiving book, traveling sometimes to work with churches, hospices, hospitals and cargiving organizations. The most popular recent talks include "Evolving Compassion in End of Life Care" and "Spirit and Compassion: Essential Elements of End of Life Care", both of which deal with knowing what to do, what to say, how to be with a friend or loved one at the end of life.

The source material for these talks is my experience with End of Life Hospice work, and my book, Urgent Whispers: Care of the Dying, which has become a caregiver support classic and is available at bookstores across the USA and online. It's also finding its way into churches, hospices and grief support groups as a workbook and discussion manual.

PS: I always have trouble finding this, so probably some other folks do too: The old Eugene "Two Rivers Interfaith Ministries"... aka TRIM is now these days knows as Lane Interfaith Alliance

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