A clergyman is charged with preaching the Word and teaching the Bible, said the Rev. Jeff Crim, but that's only part of it.
"On a daily basis," said the pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, "we have to deal with people. That's our primary job."
To facilitate that job, Crim recently earned certifications as both a clinical chaplain and pastoral counselor by the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.
He is, according to the records of the interfaith CPSP, the only clergyperson in the Chattanooga area to have achieved both certifications through that body.
"It's a benchmark I wanted to meet," Crim said, "as a goal to myself" and to demonstrate to patients and peers that he holds himself to a higher standard.
Some of the requirements are common to both certifications, he said. Both, for instance, require the individual to be an ordained or credentialed representative of a faith group, to have completed a master's degree
and to have finished 1,600 hours of supervised clinical practice.
However, the clinical chaplaincy certification requires an additional 2,000 hours of work as a chaplain in a health-care setting or prison, while the pastoral counseling certification calls for an additional 2,000 hours of experience in a parish or counseling setting, plus a credential review by peers after having been a part of a CPSP chapter.
The pastoral counseling certification hours were satisfied with a yearlong Clinical Pastoral Education residency at Erlanger and Children's Hospital at Erlanger.
Crim said the certifications do not confer extra privileges, but he said certain hospice organizations require the clinical chaplaincy certification after a certain amount of time worked.
"I did it for my own professional development," he said. "I wanted to let people know I was trying to be the best I can be at being a pastor."
The certifications, according to the Ooltewah High School, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Earlham College graduate, took about three years beyond his master's degree to complete.
Pastor at Ascension Lutheran since September, Crim has experience both in military and hospice chaplaincy settings, though that was not a requirement of his certifications.
He was chaplain to a reserve unit of the Virginia Defense Force at the Dove Street National Guard Armory in Richmond, Va., 2007-2008, and chaplain to a reserve unit of the Tennessee State Guard at the Holtzclaw Avenue National Guard Armory in Chattanooga 2008-2010.
He worked in hospice settings 2009-2012.
Crim said he still does some contract hospice chaplaincy work but is not yoked currently to a military unit.
In the future, he said, he hopes to continue chaplaincy work in hospice or health-care settings along with his duties as pastor of the East Ridge congregation. He'd also like to start a CPSP chapter in Chattanooga.
"The main goal of forming a chapter," Crim said, "is ... so you can form collegial relations and offer education and support -- professional development. Certification flows out of that."
It's all about "how to deal with and help people," he said.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...