Community of Hope

Next Chaplain Training Class begins Sept. 8

Community of Hope is a Christian community of lay volunteer pastoral caregivers united in prayer and supporting each other while serving congregation and the wider community. This is a ministry of presence and hospitality, where we learn to be the hands and feet of Christ in seeking the Christ in others. Community of Hope chaplains minister in many places, including with home-bound members of their own parish, in hospitals and hospice, in prisons, and in retirement centers. 

The training course to become a Community of Hope chaplain begins Saturday, September 8th. It meets mostly on Monday nights.  A distinguised rota of course presenters includes (among others):
  • the Rev. Todd McDowell (Grace Church, Kirkwood)
  • the Rev. Emily Hillquist Davis (St. Thomas Deaf Church)
  • Eileen Schmitz, LPC, (licensed professional counselor )
  • the Rev. Dale Kuhn, Lutheran minister and therapist 
  • United Church of Christ chaplain the Rev. Michael Tooley of Bethesda-Dilworth Senior Care
  • Deaconess Emeritus Karen Pitkin
  • Brother Sixtus, Benedictine monk from St. Louis Abbey
  • Community of Hope Chaplain Denise Chachere
  • Julie Strassman, bereavement assistant from a hospice care center
  • Presbyterian minister Elder Victoria Brown 
Learn more about the Community, its Benedictine Rule, and places that chaplains minister: on this podcast episode of JesusHacked, this recent article from Christopher Kurth, and the COH website.
Class dates:
  • Sat. 9/8, 10 am-3pm, Eucharist, opening day, lunch included, afternoon workshops including Theology of Pastoral Care
  • Mon. 9/10, 6 pm-8:30 pm, (bring brown bag supper, some snacks and coffee provided by COH) Prayer, Sessions
  • Monday schedule repeats on 9/17, 9/24, 10/1, 10/8
  • Sat. practice session 10/13, time and place TBA
  • Monday schedule repeats on 10/22, 10/28
  • Sat. practice visit 11/3, time and place TBA
  • Monday schedule repeats on  11/5, 11/12
  • Sunday 11/18 at 10am, Commissioning of Chaplains at Grace Church's main Sunday service

Classes (excepting on-site Saturday sessions) are held at Grace Episcopal Church in Kirkwood.

To register, you'll need an application form and clergy recommendation form (filled out by the applicant's priest), both available from course facilitator Christopher Kurth, Registration needed by Wednesday, Aug. 15. Also needed, a short interview with the COH course facilitator and a background check.


The Community of Hope trains and supports lay people for pastoral ministry within and beyond their congregations.

Lay chaplains are taught to be present, open and attentive, to their care receivers, to ‘listen with the ear of the heart’ in a compassionate, non-controlling manner to an individual or group for the purpose of nurturing their spiritual needs, helping them identify the presence of God, and bringing comfort and healing to those in need.

In the Diocese of Missouri, we have two accredited and operating COH centers at Church of St. Michael and St. George and Grace Church in Kirkwood.

After training and commissioning, lay pastoral caregivers select a community in which to offer a pastoral care ministry. The setting might be parish outreach to homebound or hospitalized members; or regular visits to a nursing home, prison, medical or hospice setting; or to a site serving those in need such as the homeless or abused.

To sustain themselves in ministry after their initial training, lay chaplains commit to a rule of life based on the monastic Rule of St. Benedict. This spiritual discipline includes daily reading and prayer, weekly worship, monthly meetings, and yearly retreats.

After training participants form a Circle of Care. Lay chaplains continue to be nurtured in an ongoing community that meets each month; a Circle of Care is part debriefing, part continuing education, part prayer and fellowship. Having several diocesan centers and Circles of Care gives CoH chaplains more opportunity for ongoing sharing and support. Members of the circles in the diocese meet quarterly.

We are united in prayer, shaped by Benedictine spirituality and equipped for and serving in pastoral care ministries.-Community of Hope Mission

More Info

For more information contact Nancy Ferriss