About the Author

Samuel Blair is a full time Chaplain with Bridges Hospice in Pittsburgh, PA, and has been involved in hospice care since 2003. He recently completed certification to become a Board Certified Chaplain and Certified Pastoral Counselor through the Pittsburgh CPSP chapter.

My first experience in hospice care took place in Connecticut Hospice in Branford, CT where I volunteered during seminary at Yale Divinity School.  I had no sudden apocalypse where I knew that I would be a hospice chaplain forever.  In fact I fell in to this position after being laid off from a church position where I headed the counseling and adult education programs.  Prior to that I had been involved in geriatric psychology, psychiatric testing, the philosophy of religion, counseling and health care.  It has been through this winding path that I’ve found myself where I am today.

I received the BS and MA degrees in psychology from Geneva College and the MDiv from Yale Divinity School. I also completed four units of CPE through the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration Center.

I love music, need to read more, and try not to take things so seriously. The photos featured in the header are all my own, taken on trips to Newfoundland, Canada.

If you like the blog please let me know! I appreciate your comments and feedback, and please share with others. Email me at scblair@chaplainsreport.com

18 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Samuel,
    If someone wants to contact you via email, how that person does that? I could not find any specific page on your website to email you and ask few questions. I’m planning to become a chaplain and your website is one of the few that I return to get some information and learn more about chaplaincy. Thank you very much for writing about chaplaincy. Please keep up the good work and continue to inspire others!

  2. Ahhh, Samuel. A man after my own heart, theologically and style-wise. I so very much appreciate your approach to this topic, acknowledging both the pitfalls and spiritual possibilities, and providing plenty of examples, including your own personal experience at the end!

    What you shared is VERY much similar to my own approach after 20 years of hospital chaplaincy (Indiana and Australia) and now 2 years of full-time hospice chaplaincy in Cincinnati — and literally hundreds of funerals. I try to get out of doing as many funerals as I can, but get asked to do the ones where there is no connection with faith group or pastor/priest/religious leader.

    I never really preach at funerals but after thorough-going interviews with family/freiends at the pre-funeral stage I lead in sharing reflections and stories from the person’s life and the impact he/she had on family and community including “being kind” if they were a real hellion. I also try, with family permission, to facilitate and tightly moderate sharing from those gathered (‘I invite you to share a few thoughts or phrases of how you experienced him/her, from where you are seated, if you wish”) Then I do a very reflective and searching pastoral prayer at the end which pulls it all together and which I modify a bit depending on circumstances. I always end by “commending them into God’s care and all that God has in mind for their future.”

    Works every time and is theologically inclusive! What counts the most is really connecting with family before, during and after the funeral – and linking them up to good bereavement support. -Clair in Cincinnati (yes, a man named Clair)

  3. Hi there! I’m a seminarian who will start my first unit of CPE in October. I’m so excited and grateful I’ve found your blog – it’s an amazing resource. Thanks so much! 🙂

  4. Thanks for your blog. One of our members here follows your blog and has found it quite useful. I do agree… and have welcomed your thoughts. We are blessed to have had a few mentors from CPSP including Raymond Lawrence, Doug Dickens, and Charlie Starr, but we gain from multiple perspectives. Bob Munson, Registrar, CPSP-Philippines.

  5. You said CPSP has not commented on SCA, In the Pastoral Report, Raymond Lawrence, commented that we should welcome them. Since you’re in CPSP can you elaborate more on that for your general audience so they can see that CPSP’s position?

  6. Glad to find your blog. I am doing my first unit of CPE and find the process for certification confusing. I am not even aware of any ACPE chapters around here. It seems like everyone does CPSP. I am what you would consider a non-traditional student with a lot of life experience. I am willing to get all of my units of CPE, it just seems to take forever. I could really use a paid position as well. Are they out there?

    • Thanks! It can be a long process but before you know it you’ll be done. Regarding paid CPE positions I know there are some that have stipends but they are few and far between. Ask around – networking may be your best route to a position.

  7. Really excited to have found your blog! I’m taking my second unit of CPE right now and trying to navigate some of the information out there on board certification and membership with professional organizations. Quick question if you have a moment: does CSPS accept units of CPE from ACPE accredited training centers? I’m in Maine, there aren’t any CSPS training centers nearby. Just curious! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences!

    • Not sure if you can. If you’re using Chrome you can hold the CTRL key while rolling your mouse’s scroll wheel up and down to increase the page size if that helps.

  8. Hi. Thank you for your blog. I really enjoyed about your work as a hospital chaplain. I also appear to be on a winding path myself towards a ministry calling in chaplaincy and/or pastoral care. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up with it all but I’m just trying to enjoy the journey and to trust and follow God wherever he leads me. I look forward to reading more of your postings. God bless your ministry work. Jaye

  9. Reading through some of your posts I could not tell if you only work at a Roman Catholic hospice or if you are a practicing Roman Catholic. I followed your link from an Evangelism Explosion link because I was curious about your post concerning Manning and Merton. I have read both but disagree with them on the authority of Scripture (being RC’s they adhere to the practice of elevating tradition and the papacy to the same level as Scripture). Scripture was the final authority for Athanasius who stood against the entire Roman Empire and the “visible church” that had been taken over by the corrupting powers and politics of his time. If not for Scripture (and a man prepared by God to wield it) the “visible church” would have adopted the Arian heresy that both the Orthodox in Constantinople and the Catholic in Rome had embraced because of political pressure.
    It is not because of Calvin, Luther, or Zwingli that I embrace “Scripture Alone”. It is because of Athanasius against the World.

    • Actually I’m neither: not catholic and not working for a catholic hospice.

      I can’t say I can speak much to Merton’s or manning’s beliefs regarding church authority and scripture. Manning seems to go against your reckoning of him however. On page 141 of “the Ragamuffin Gospel” he comments that while he agrees that the church has the right to require celibacy for ordained clergy, he disagrees with the. Hutch regarding the “adulterous” nature of his own marriage. He frequently dismisses legalism and feels many church teachings get in the way of the gospel.

      Regarding Merton, I read him mostly concerning his beliefs around solitude and reliance on God’s grace in his life.

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