Learn & Grow with us!

Interfaith ministers, also known as interfaith chaplains, are ordained graduates of a recognized interfaith school. ChIME is one of thirteen such schools in the United States, and is the only one offering face-to-face weekly and weekend classes for two academic years, providing an intense learning experience in deep personal work as well as community service.

Interfaith is an avenue of seeing and seeking the endless possibilities of Divine expression. Interfaith ministry respects all spiritual paths including "no path" and honors Divine wisdom in all faiths.

Students enroll in ChIME both for personal growth and for professional development. ChIME’s mission is to educate and ordain interfaith leaders who serve with integrity, spiritual presence, and prophetic voice. By prophetic voice we mean working to heal the planet by being in right relationship with all that is, beginning with oneself.

The founder of the first Interfaith school in the U.S. was Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, a Hassidic Jew from Hungary who lost his whole family, including his 3-year-old daughter, in the Holocaust.  His response to such an overwhelming tragedy was to found The New Seminary in New York City; ChIME’s Abbess, Patricia Ellen, is a graduate of that school. Rabbi Gelberman’s vision was that Interfaith teachings would promote understanding among spiritual traditions and thus help prevent another holocaust.

Program Overview

ChIME is a two-to-three year interfaith program for students seeking to deepen their spiritual growth and practice and/or seeking ordination as interfaith ministers. Classes meet face-to-face in Portland, Maine. Each student is a member of a class cohort that meets once each week beginning in mid-September and ending in late May. There are several breaks each year that coincide with the public school schedule.

The first year focuses on personal growth and clarity of call; the second year’s focus is on deepening one’s spiritual journey through skill building and an internship. 150 hours of volunteer service is required during each academic year.

Through participation in weekly classes, weekend workshops, and special ChIME community-wide events, students are invited into a Beloved Community of interfaith-oriented individuals. Each student is encouraged to identify a mentor, and is also assigned a ChIME graduate as a Spiritual Companion. In addition, Core Faculty are available to students for one-on-one consultations by appointment, and for semester reviews. Graduates reflect that peer interactions in the weekly small discussion/integration circles provide some of the most valuable support of all.

It is the student’s responsibility to find volunteer service and internship placements.  However, at the request of the student, ChIME may be able to suggest possible agencies, sites and programs. ChIME’s community partners typically requesting student chaplains include the Cancer Community Center (South Portland), the Center for Grieving Children (Portland), the Center for Wisdom’s Women (Lewiston), and Brooksby Village in Massachusetts, to name a few.

Topics covered in the ChIME core curriculum:

The Way Of Contemplation

-   The Spiritual Call
-    Sacred Ceremony & Worship
-    Awareness of the whole person
-    The Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Intellectual Self
-    Meditation
-    Communication Skills
-    The Divine Feminine
-    Comparative Religions
-    Art-as-Meditation
-    The Interfaith Tradition
-    Creation Spirituality
-    World Religions Part One
-    Community Service
-    Personal Spiritual Practice
-    Project: “Planetary Chaplain”

The Way of Action

-   World Religions Part Two
-    Reinvention of Work
-    Ritual & Ceremony
-    Ethics & Supervision
-    Naming Ceremonies
-    Sermons/Spiritual
-    Leadership
-    Healing Rituals
-    Praying with People/Body Prayer
-    Illness, Death, Dying: Hospital & Hospice Chaplaincy
-    Funerals & Memorials Services
-    Nature/Mother Earth
-    The Expressive Arts as Healing Tools
-    Community Internship

What skills will I learn at ChIME?

During the two year program students learn about and develop skills in the following areas:

- The history and practice of Interfaith ministry
- The world’s religions, wisdom traditions and other non-traditional paths
- Service as spiritual practice
- Group facilitation and leadership skills
- Spiritual presence
- Public presence and public speaking
- Creating and officiating interfaith ritual and ceremony
- Use of the arts in spiritual work
- Develop and/or deepen individual spiritual practice
- Self-reflection – learning to own one’s own feelings, avoid projections and develop boundaries
- Awareness of impact on group
- Ability to give and receive feedback
- Ability to dialogue and resolve conflict

How are weekly and weekend classes designed?

Weekly classes are multi-dimensional, experiential, and include:

- Beginning and ending with silence, prayer, and/or meditation;
- Brief (1-3 minute) check-in from each student and faculty member present;
- Curriculum topics presented by faculty;
- Student presentations of assignments;
- Opportunities to practice spiritual care;
- Interactions among and between students and faculty about the gifts and challenges of a growing community;
-During the weekly classes following weekend workshops and retreats there will be time for integration of the weekend as well as group spiritual direction or connection.

Weekend Workshops are held 8 times each academic year, generally on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. In addition, Convocation is the second weekend in September and Ordination is the first weekend in June.  Except for two weekend retreats that include overnights in December and March, weekend workshop days are 9:30 to 4:30 and do not include overnights.

Costs and Admissions Process

The tuition cost for the two year program is $10,000 ($5,000 Per Year) for students entering in 2018-2019. Payment plans are available. There is limited scholarship money available for second year students. Books and related expenses are minimal depending on the student's needs.

The ChIME academic year begins once annually, in September, and we offer a rolling admissions process. Click here for our one-page application to begin the process, which also requires a short spiritual autobiography, two letters of reference, and an application fee of $50. Once your application is complete, ChIME will contact you for the first of two interviews with our faculty and staff.

ChIME welcomes students of any vocational background, provided they have the capacity to do the required work and the desire to be of service in the Interfaith tradition. Students who have previously worked in any of the helping professions may find the ChIME curriculum more familiar, but all are welcome and encouraged to apply. The program is designed for individuals who already have a Bachelor’s or higher degree, but ChIME sometimes waives the Bachelor’s requirement for individuals with equivalent life experience.

ChIME provides a mindful home for the deep exploration of self. We investigate not only the heart of wisdom, but how participating in that search together can inform and inspire our everyday lives of service. - Rev. Jacob Watson, Founding Abbot

If you feel that the above description applies to you at this time in your life, please apply. ChIME will not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, marital status, beliefs, age, national origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability.