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Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center - Richmond, VA


Clinical Pastoral Education



What is Clinical Pastoral Education?
History of McGuire's CPE Center
CPE in the Context of Richmond VAMC
Instructional Philosophy
Educator  Background
Instructional Schedule
How to Apply
Mission, Vision and Core Values of the CPE Program
Statement of Accreditation
Student Record Policy    

What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

Clinical Pastoral Education is interfaith professional education for ministry. It brings theological students and ministers into supervised encounters with persons in crisis. Out of an intense involvement with persons in need and the feedback from peers and teachers, students develop a new awareness of themselves as persons and of the needs for whom they minister. From theological reflection on specific human situations, students gain a new understanding of ministry. Within the interdisciplinary team process of helping persons, students develop skills in interpersonal and inter-professional relationships. CPE is designed for people at various stages of life, for example, clergy seeking continuing education, laity wanting to explore/develop themselves as pastoral caregivers, and seminarians preparing for ministry.
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History of McGuire's CPE Center

In February 2015, Chaplain Kenneth Linder, PhD was hired to establish an accredited ACPE CPE center at McGuire VAMC.  McGuire became a satellite of VCU’s CPE center and launched a CPE internship program in September 2015.  In 2017, McGuire achieved full accreditation by ACPE and was also granted a year-long four-stipend interprofessional residency program that continues to this day along with two internships (summer-intensive and 32-week-extended).  The CPE center is housed in a renovated CPE Education room that includes a state-of-the art video-teleconferencing system.  McGuire’s CPE center has been blessed with strong support from McGuire’s leadership and its Professional Advisory Group.  CPE students are very well-received and highly valued in the facility, such that three residents from the 2017-2018 graduating class were hired as full-time staff chaplains by McGuire in September 2018.  Over two dozen students have completed CPE as residents or interns since 2015.  McGuire’s rapid growth continues as it is seeking to hire a second ACPE Certified Educator and to launch an ACPE Certified Educator Education program.
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CPE in the Context of Richmond VAMC

CPE participants

The Richmond VAMC, a 1.2 million square-foot facility with approximately 400 beds, offers diagnostic and health care services in medicine, surgery, neurology, rehabilitation medicine, intermediate care, acute and sustaining spinal cord injury, skilled nursing home care, and palliative care.  The Richmond VAMC has a wide variety of out-patient specialty clinics and has been a leader in treatment of traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac conditions, among others.  The Veterans Health Administration recognizes that spiritual and pastoral care must be integrated into a total program of health care provided to Veterans and made available to those who desire such care. Hence, Chaplains are integral members in key patient treatment teams to provide a holistic treatment of the health and welfare of Veterans entrusted to our care.

Chaplain Interns minister to all faith traditions in the following settings:

-Pastoral care
    Individual Veterans
    Veterans’ family members
    Medical center staff

-Professional help in crisis situations:
    Serious illness
    Poly Trauma
    Impending death

-Sacramental Ministry


Within these settings, each unit of CPE requires at least 100 hours of class time and at least 300 hours of clinical work.  Whereas class times are fixed by necessity, there is some flexibility in scheduling clinical hours around student’s availability. 
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Instructional Philosophy

We are committed to the development of compassionate and competent spiritual caregivers through an action/reflection/action model that uses the student’s personal identity, family history, social location, and spiritual orientations.  Learning to hear deeply the spiritual and religious dimensions of life in moments of loss and grief helps adult learners articulate their own pastoral theology.  This reflective process increases self-awareness and develops pastoral skills.  By employing a multicultural and multi-faith perspective in an experiential learning environment, each student can develop a unique style of ministry based on the new insights fostered.  The goal of our program is to value the experience students bring with them and to mentor each student’s unique path towards growing their pastoral heart while learning the art of spiritual care.  The curriculum uses transformative learning as an educational framework and emphasizes visitation skills, reflective listening, spiritual assessment, grief and loss counseling, and non-directive ministry.  Educational methodologies include the following: case studies (in a verbatim format), one-on-one education with the CPE supervisor, mentoring by staff chaplains, and interactive learning within the peer group.  It also includes leading religious services and delivering sermons. This learning takes place in our new CPE Classroom located near the main Chaplain Service Office.
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Educator Background

McGuire VAMC Chaplain

ACPE Certified Educator

Chaplain Kenneth Linder was born and raised in a northeast suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. After working for nine years as a mechanical engineer, he left his engineering career, earning an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was ordained in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination in 2005. He was the pastor of a Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Allentown, Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2009. He did his ACPE residency and supervisory training from 2009 to 2014 at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In November of 2014, he was certified as an Associate Educator in the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). He began working at the Richmond VAMC in February of 2015. In September 2016, he was certified as an ACPE Educator. He has been married for more than twenty-seven years and has three grown children.               
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"Ken is a good mentor with constructive critique, positive disposition and authentic heart to see people succeed. He helped me trust and open up in a way I haven't done in years. This helped me on my personal growth..."
- Unique McKibbens, Chaplain Intern, Fall 2015-Spring 2016 Extended Unit

"For me, one of the best things that happened related to my supervision these past two weeks was Ken's offer to look at a verbatim I had done. I was especially grateful that he was attuned enough to me to see that the results of the visit really bothered me and that I was having a strong emotional reaction to it. His willingness to review it at that time, rather than waiting for me to present it in class, showed both great sensitivity and stood as testimony of his willingness to help us as students. His comments were reassuring and helped to restore my confidence in how I handled a visit which had caused me to question my abilities as a chaplain. It was not so much the positive affirmation, which certainly was helpful, but the level of concern and willingness to help me work through the issue that was most meaningful. Thanks!"
- James Ginther, Chaplain Intern, Fall 2015-Spring 2016 Extended Unit

Instructional Schedule

Programs and Schedule

Full-time Residency (Stipended position with benefits to earn four units of CPE that begins in August and runs for one year). This program enables students to meet ACPE Level II Outcomes while preparing them to become Board Certified Chaplains. Typical hours are Monday through Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm as well as some weekday evenings and approximately every other weekend. Total time for class, clinical work, and homework is approximately 45-50 hours/week; hence, this program is not compatible with excessive outside employment or activities. This residency is an interprofessional program; hence, in addition to learning pastoral care competencies and self-awareness, students will learn interprofessional teamwork skills with psychology and social work students with a focus on mental health and geriatrics. Chaplaincy, psychology, and social work students participate together in case conferences and in some didactics, including the following: motivational interviewing, professional roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, integrated ethics, bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment, and teamwork skills.

Application deadline: November 30, 2019
Unit Dates: August 17, 2020 - August 13, 2021

Two formats for Chaplain interns:

1. Full-time Internship (Non-compensated summer intensive position to earn one unit of CPE that runs for 11 weeks from late May to early August).
This program focuses on the fundamentals of chaplaincy and pastoral care. Typical hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as well as some weekday evenings and approximately every other weekend. Total time for class, clinical work, and homework is approximately 45-50 hours/week; hence, this program is not compatible with excessive outside employment or activities.

Application Deadline: December 31, 2019
Unit Dates: May 26, 2020—August 6, 2020

2. Part-time Internship (Non-compensated part-time position to earn one unit of CPE that runs for 32 weeks from mid-September to early May). This program focuses on the fundamentals of chaplaincy and pastoral care and is designed to accommodate the full-time working professional. Other than the first week of orientation, which requires students to participate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., class hours and clinical work can be completed during evenings and weekends. Following the first week of orientation, total time for class, clinical work, and homework is approximately 15 hours/week.

Application Deadline: February 28, 2020 (rolling admission)
Unit Dates: September 21, 2020—April 29, 2021
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·         Three-year master of divinity degree or master’s degree in a theologically-related field from an accredited institution of higher learning or its equivalent
·         Completion of at least one unit of ACPE CPE
·         Ordination or commissioning by faith group

·         Bachelor’s degree
·         Successful completion of at least one (1) graduate level course of study in a school of theology or an equivalent
·         Recommendation from faith group
·         Prior ministry experience

·         Three-year master of divinity degree or master’s degree in a theologically-related field from an accredited institution of higher learning or its equivalent
·         Ordination or commissioning by faith group

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How to Apply

A downloadable ACPE-CPE application form in both Adobe Acrobat and WORD can be found at under “Resources” and “Forms,” or click here for more information.

Regarding the application essays: 
·         Reasonably full account of your life (how did persons and events in your life influence who you are today?):  5-7 pages (single spaced)
·         Spiritual growth and development:  3-5 pages (single spaced)
·         Description of your work:  listing is sufficient   
·         An account of a helping incident or verbatim (what does it show about your current view of ministry?):  2-7 pages (single spaced)
·         Impressions of CPE (what do you want to learn?):  1-2 pages (single spaced)

Note: All materials need to be written at a graduate school level of quality.

There is no application fee or tuition cost for the program.

Send completed application in one of two ways:

By email attachment to

By mail:  

Kenneth Linder, ACPE Certified Educator
Chaplain Service Department
H.H. McGuire VAMC
1201 Broad Rock BLVD
Richmond, VA 23249


Upon receipt of the application, the applicant may be invited for an interview appointment.  The interview is about “fit” as a student in a challenging educational process.                                                             
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Mission, Vision, and Core Values of the CPE Program

Educate persons to be effective pastoral caregivers to the veterans, families, friends, and staff within the Richmond VAMC to improve their health and well-being.  Teach persons knowledge and skills so they can provide effective spiritual and emotional support in a variety of settings.

The Clinical Pastoral Education program at the Richmond VAMC will be a gold standard for VAMCs by integrating a wide array of clinical experiences with vigorous reflection.  Students will have opportunities to participate in diverse clinical experiences, including the following: individual care, group work, crisis ministry, interdisciplinary teams, etc.  Students will reflect on their personal stories, religious heritages, theological understandings, and knowledge of the behavioral sciences as these influence the ministry they provide.  Students will explore ways to be different and to function differently as ministers to improve their pastoral care.

Core Values

  • Integrity: Act with the highest moral conduct at all times.
  • Veteran-centered: Honor veterans by providing exceptional service to them, their families, friends, and the staff who care for them.
  • Learning: Give and receive open and honest feedback in respectful ways that promote increased self-awareness and skill-building.
  • Transformation: Embrace personal change as a person and minister.
  • Collegiality: Demonstrate clarity of communication, accountability, and clear and professional boundaries.
  • Diversity: Respect and celebrate diversity as a foundation for learning culturally-competent ministry.
  • Self-care: Practice self-care that enables the ability to continue to care for others.

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Statement of Accreditation
McGuire VAMC is accredited to offer CPE (Levels I/II) training by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc.  One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 320 -1472.  ACPE CPE is Trademarked by the ACPE. 
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