Frequently asked questions

After browsing through our FAQ, please contact us at or at 207-347-6740 with any more questions or for further details about our program.

I'm not sure if the ChIME program is for me. How can I know?

There are several ways to check us out!  ChIME offers open houses free of charge, usually the fourth Monday night during the school year, with limited offering in the summer.  Or, come to one of our ChIME workshops, which are open to the public on the first weekend of some months (see Events Calendar FMI). There is a $75 fee for non-students.  The day will give you a good idea what a typical ChIME event is like, and you can meet current students. You might also want to attend a ChIME worship service in Portland at the Portland New Church usually on the third Sunday of the month during the school year (see Events Calendar FMI).  We are also happy to set up a one-on-one meeting with the Dean who can also put you in contact with some graduates of ChIME who will be willing to speak to you about their experiences.

I'm not at all "religious" -- is this okay?

Our students come from all faith backgrounds and traditions, including atheist. The important thing is a curiosity about, and a willingness to learn about and serve people from many faith traditions.

How would you define "Interfaith"?

Interfaith is a way of life that allows each person to express the Divine in his/her own way. It is an avenue of seeing and seeking the endless possibilities of Divine Expression.  We celebrate our connection with the Divine and how that connection enhances our lives and relationships. Interfaith comes from the perspective that WE ARE ONE, and are connected to each other through Love.  Interfaith ministry respects all spiritual paths including "no path" and honors Divine wisdom in all faiths.

What if I’m already identified with a religion?

Interfaith studies encourage and provide opportunities for individuals to deepen their relationship to their own faith by understanding it in the context of other world religions. More meaningful commitment to one’s faith tradition is a common outcome of Interfaith studies.

I'm working full time. Am I going to have time for this?

The core program is designed for adult learners with full time commitments. Students may also choose a Third Year to complete their internship or assignments if life dictates the need for more time.

Is ChIME an accredited institution?

ChIME is not a degree-granting institution, but offers a professional certificate in Interfaith Chaplaincy, as well as the option to be ordained as an Interfaith Chaplain. There is presently no accrediting body for Interfaith Chaplaincy schools, but ChIME graduation is recognized as credentialing for interfaith ministry by the national body, A World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy (AWAIC). For further information about AWAIC, please visit their site.

What will I be able to do with my ChIME training?

Many ChIME graduates have been successful in finding paid employment in hospice, assisted living, and other health-related chaplaincies, including some hospitals. Each prospective employer has its own criteria, which sometimes includes a Masters of Divinity degree, ordination by a denominational body, and/or several units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) or Clinical Pastoral Training (CPT). The same is generally true of federally paid military chaplaincies. Recently the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy has begun to provide CPT training in Maine. Some ChIME graduates have received a unit of CPT credit for their ChIME internship. Review is on a case-by-case basis.  Another Maine employer seeking a paid chaplain reviewed ChIME’s curriculum and concluded that the applicant satisfied their education requirements, which previously had been limited to persons with Masters of Divinity degrees. Again, review is on a case-by-case basis. In addition to institutional chaplaincies, many ChIME graduates create their own incomes by serving as celebrants, teaching, preaching, and offering workshops from writing to singing, drumming to nature explorations as spiritual practices.

How will I change as a person?

Regardless of the type of chaplaincy a student seeks post-graduation, a ChIME education helps the student live into his or her pastoral authority – that felt sense of being in the right place at the right time with the right skills, and the wisdom to know when other skills are required.

Am I required to be ordained?

No, a student may elect to graduate only.  Our history tells us most students elect to be ordained, but students have until January of their second year to make that decision.

What will be my title if I am ordained?

You may call yourself Reverend, a term shared by Interfaith, Buddhist and Christian traditions, or “Chaplain” or “Interfaith Chaplain.” Some graduates use no title, while others refer to themselves as Community Ministers or Planetary Chaplains. The common denominator is service to individuals and communities.

What opportunities will open up to me through ChIME?

ChIME students and graduates are increasingly sought after to serve community organizations, individuals, families and some denominational parishes. ChIME's requirement of 150 hours of volunteer work the first year and 150 hours of formal internship the second year provides an excellent opportunity to explore hands-on chaplaincy and build relationships with people and organizations. Through the ChIME grad network, opportunities to serve are communicated to ChIME and disseminated to chaplains and student chaplains.

I don’t live near Portland. Is this going to work for me?

If you live too far away to attend weekly classes, consider applying for our Blended Learning class in Fall of 2020, an option for distance learners. If you prefer the traditional program, some students have driven a long distance to attend classes. It does take some commitment, especially in the winter! Students may choose to stay overnight rather than go back and forth Saturday & Sunday: sometimes you can stay with local ChIME students, or some choose to stay in a hotel. Some years we are also able to offer an afternoon class in lieu of an evening class, which can allow students coming from a distance to do their travel all in one day.

How much time will I spend in class?

Classes meet one night a week for three hours and one weekend a month. The core program provides 500 hours of direct contact with faculty.

How are the weekend classes structured?

Weekend classes meet both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30-4:30. Each day is a separate class. At times, there may be two classes in one day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  

Can I take any classes on-line?

If you live too far away to attend the traditional ChIME program, consider our Distance Learning option for Fall of 2020. Blended learning will combine weekly live online classes over Zoom. Students will meet live online at a set weekly time, with their instructor. Students in the blended learning program will still experience face-to-face learning and connection through monthly weekend classes, held in the Portland area. The blended learning program will still offer a deep sense of spiritual community, which is created when students in a class enter and complete the program together.  

Will there be opportunities to explore the expressive arts during the two years?

Expressive arts are used both as vehicles to connect to, and express, the Divine and as tools for assisting others to express their spirit.  Experiences of music, visual art, writing and dance, etc. are offered throughout the two years.

What types of support do you offer students?

Each student is assigned a Spiritual Companion who has a connection to ChIME (faculty, graduates, teachers), with whom they meet monthly, and a mentor of their choosing with whom they meet four times a year. 

Are there any scholarship funds available?

ChIME has no scholarship funds for first year students, and limited financial support for second years students. However, students can pay monthly during the academic year, provided the prior year’s tuition is fully paid before the student moves into the next year’s program.

What are the expectations regarding practical experience?

Each student is required to commit to 150 hours of community service First Year and 150 hours in an internship Second Year. ChIME faculty and staff can assist in finding appropriate placements and students are encouraged to be creative in their selection of placements, stretching themselves out of their comfort zones.

I'm not sure of my direction.

Don't worry: you're not alone! Most students find this an ongoing process. Choosing your volunteer work and internship in an area of your interest will give you a better idea if it is, indeed, what you want to do.

Who can I contact with questions?

Contact Alaena Dunn, Director of Administration, at or by calling 207-347-6740; or contact Dean Katie Payson at