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Prayed up: A qualitative exploration of disaster chaplaincy

Denise J Bulling, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The experiences of faith leaders serving as disaster chaplains were explored using a phenomenological tradition of inquiry. Data collection included In-depth interviews and review of documents associated with existing disaster chaplaincy training programs. Four research questions were explored with the goal of discovering how faith leaders could be better prepared to function as disaster chaplains within a secular (non-religious) disaster response workforce: (1) How do disaster chaplains view the similarities or differences of their work when compared to disaster mental health professionals? (2) What professional and/or personal competencies do disaster chaplains need to be effective? (3) How does the experience of working in disaster response impact the disaster chaplain? (4) How can the experiences of disaster chaplains inform development of training for new and experienced people in this role?^ Results showed that disaster chaplains viewed their role in spiritual care provision as complementary but distinctly different than that of mental health, while planners conceptualized it as a sub-specialty of disaster mental health. The themes that emerged from the experiences of disaster chaplains were used to construct a model of preparedness that can guide selection, recruitment and training of disaster chaplains. Chaplains identified several personal characteristics that could guide faith leaders as they self-select or are recruited for this work. Their experiences also led to identification of knowledge and skills that helped them fulfill their role. The most experienced disaster chaplains placed the greatest value on personal psychological, emotional, and spiritual preparation for the work.^

Subject Area

Religion, Clergy|Education, Adult and Continuing

Recommended Citation

Bulling, Denise J, "Prayed up: A qualitative exploration of disaster chaplaincy" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3233743.