Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education

Equipping for Pastoral Ministry in Anxious Times

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Eastern Mennonite Seminary is a unique opportunity for theological students, clergy and laypersons to develop their ministry skills and leadership capacity. Students enrolled in CPE gain ministry experience through supervised ministry as a chaplain in a local hospital, or retirement community, or in a ministry role in a congregation.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is CPE?

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is theological and professional education for ministry. Students have an opportunity to develop a new awareness of themselves and those to whom they minister though:

  • supervised ministry to persons in need
  • a disciplined process of reflection
  • a community of co-learners

CPE is designed to develop self-awareness, interpersonal awareness, conceptual ability, pastoral functioning and ministry development and management.

In general, CPE focuses on the goals of:

  • Pastoral Reflection: reflection on one’s self as a person and pastor in relation to persons in need, the supervisor, one’s peers and staff.
  • Pastoral Formation: focus on personal and pastoral identity issues.
  • Pastoral Competence: deepening competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills and integration of theological and behavioral science resources.

CPE is an experience based form of learning that is often called “action/reflection.” Students engage in ministry, and reflect upon this ministry in light of the outcome, their principles and theology. The new insights gained from this reflection inform steps for future ministry.

Who Enrolls in CPE?

Ordained clergy for continuing education
Ordained clergy preparing for specialized ministry
Health care professionals
Qualified lay leaders

Can I get credit for CPE?

Many theological schools offer academic credit for CPE. If you are not enrolled in a degree program and would like academic credit towards a theological graduate degree, contact the EMS admissions office at Some denominations require CPE for ordination. The Association of Professional Chaplains requires CPE for certification as a chaplain.

The Association of Professional Chaplains stipulates that students in a theological masters program of 72 credit hours or less may not use CPE for both academic credit and as one of the four units of CPE required for Certification as a chaplain. However, for example, those in a MDiv degree program of 81 hours may use CPE for both academic credit and for meeting the requirement of CPE for Certification as a chaplain. In sum, students who intend to prepare themselves for the vocation of chaplaincy are encouraged to earn an MDiv degree.

Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s Clinical Pastoral Education Program offers CPE level I and II and Supervisory CPE as an accredited center of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. We Work, Floor 4 120 West Trinity Place, Decatur, GA 30030, Tel: 404/320-1472, Fax: 404/320-0849  

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