A Christian Education Program Designed for the Patients at the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute -- By: Charles G. Ronkos

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 09:0 (NA 1976)
Article: A Christian Education Program Designed for the Patients at the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute
Author: Charles G. Ronkos

A Christian Education Program Designed
for the Patients at the Cleveland
Psychiatric Institute

Charles G. Ronkos

Backgrounds: Context and Focus

A mental hospital is a unique setting in which to minister: the level of need is more apparent than in some situations and the challenge to the chaplain/minister is quite sharply defined. As a chaplain in such a setting the problem of religious belief in relation to the development of psychiatric illness has been a major concern of mine for a number of years with reference to my functions as a hospital chaplain at the Cleveland Psychiatric Institute. The question of whether there is a direct or indirect relationship between a person’s religious belief and the development of psychiatric illness led me into an empirical study of patients admitted to C. P. I. showing religious delusions and symptoms. This work was completed in the process of the Mastor of Divinity degree with a major in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling through Ashland Theological Seminary.

The findings from that study led to further interest relative to ministry to psychiatric hospital residents. The present study was undertaken that I might gain further insight into the patient’s world as he sees it. The research sought to draw on the patient’s Biblical and theological concepts. A primary goal was to help me become a more effective minister to people in hospital context.

As a minister of the Gospel who is a chaplain in a mental hospital, one of my basic functions is to preach and teach the Word of God in the context of the hospital setting to patients who are mentally disturbed. In order to fulfill this function to the best of my abilities I have to be aware of where the patients are in their religious growth. I hoped to derive this awareness from the research data obtained through direct contact with patients as they were admitted to the hospital for treatment. With this basic theological information in hand I felt that I could then proceed to design a Christian education program

based upon theological concepts that were lacking in the religious growth of the patients. Any such program would have to be tailor-made to meet the personal religious needs of the patient in order to help him/her grow in their theological perspectives and horizons. Further, I thought that these insights would assist me in my preaching ministry as I prepare my weekly sermons for the patients in the weekly worship services. I could hereby zero in on basic religious needs of patients.

My program, as I conceived it and in keeping with the objectives of the CHERS D. Min. program, would not be limited to enhancing only my own self-understanding and ministry; it would also have pote...

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