Apply For Internship

Application Deadline: Thursday, November 2, 2017
To apply, submit your resume plus a letter describing your interest in the internship. Electronic submissions are preferred. Send materials to Paul Riddle.

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2016 Interns

Lifeline Chaplaincy is a non-profit organization that is an outreach of the Churches of Christ.  Lifeline has served the 13 hospitals of the Texas Medical Center in Houston since 1983.  In recent years we have expanded our ministry to selected hospitals in other cities, including Fort Worth and Austin.   Our mission statement reads:

Dedicated to providing compassionate support to the seriously ill, their families and caregivers, and to being an educational resource for crisis ministry.

Lifeline’s pastoral care ministry is provided by board certified professional chaplains, as well as trained volunteers and chaplain interns working under their supervision.

The chaplain intern program began in 1986 as an opportunity for ministry students from Christian universities to experience firsthand the world of hospital patients and their families.  It has grown to incorporate students from other disciplines (e.g. nursing, social work, pre-med, psychology) in which the students express a desire for ministry-related experience along with their chosen vocation.

We have utilized university interns from Church of Christ affiliated universities including Abilene Christian, Pepperdine, Harding and York, and we welcome applicants from all universities.  Some interns are ministry/religion majors, along with other majors who wish to increase their skills in a crisis-oriented ministry setting.  Interns are housed with families in the local area during their 3-month stay.  Internships are primarily aimed towards a summer stay, but other 12-week internships will be considered.

The basic assumption of this internship is that it is a hands-on learning environment.  The bedside and clinic become a “living laboratory” of immense proportions.  Chaplain interns are expected to interact with patients, families, and medical staff, representing themselves as ones committed to serve, to minister, and to learn.  As an intern, you will meet people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, each dealing with serious illness.

The role expectations for an intern’s time with Lifeline Chaplaincy are:

  • Pastoral care visitation of patients and families in assigned hospitals
  • Didactic studies of topics pertaining to theology and suffering
  • Camp counselor for Camp Star Trails for pediatric cancer patients
  • Supervision of visits through verbatim and group feedback
  • Personal theological reflections triggered by your encounters

A certain amount of flexibility is required to function in this position, which means some days and events are structured, and some are more determined by the needs and opportunities of the moment.  This reflects what patients and families in crisis must deal with, and can be a source of frustration and/or new ways to perceive disruptive events.  It also reflects what happens to those who feel called to minister to persons in crisis, demanding openness to the unexpected and finding God’s presence there.  It is a real privilege to be asked to join in someone else’s sacred journey of suffering and loss.

Because the chaplain intern is representing the Lord and his or her community in a crisis-centered, high-tech facility, certain qualities of spiritual, social and emotional maturity and adaptability are expected.  This is an environment where one who ministers doesn’t always have nice, tidy answers to the complex dilemmas some people are encountering.  It is also an open-ended opportunity to learn new appreciation for others, even when they are different from us, and to learn new ways of perceiving God and his role in our lives.

Not everything is solemn and heavy-hearted.  The intern group usually finds much to celebrate and enjoy as a group and as individuals.  Houston, Fort Worth, and Austin are all marvelous, vibrant places to explore, with numerous cultural opportunities, museums, theaters, restaurants, and more.  It is helpful to have access to a car, but public transportation is also available.

We ask you to prayerfully consider being a part of our chaplain intern program, either this summer or at some point in the future. The number of interns per summer is limited, so please submit a cover letter, resume, and references early.  We will then contact you for an interview by phone or in person.  If you are accepted into the program, we pay a stipend, and we work closely with you to arrange good housing.  The first day of the 2018 summer internship is Friday, May 18; the last day is Friday, August 10.


Additional information:

  1. In general, half the day is spent in classroom activities and half the day is devoted to patient visitation in assigned hospitals. Each intern will receive a clinical assignment in a specific hospital.
  2. Interns will join Clinical Pastoral Education students and supervisors from local hospitals for some didactic sessions and other events.
  3. Each intern will write at least 3 verbatim. A verbatim is a clinical learning tool in which the chaplain reproduces in writing a pastoral visit and then reflects on that visit according to a prescribed format.  The verbatim is then discussed in a group meeting with supervisors and peers.
  4. Interns will read several books and articles pertaining to pastoral care and will discuss those works with supervisors and peers.
  5. Interns are expected to attend the following evening / weekend events:
  • Weekend Workshop, “Ministry In Times of Illness and Loss, Part 1” (Friday – Saturday, May 18-19)
  • Open house in their honor (Thursday, May 24, 6-8 p.m.)
  • Camp Star Trails (Saturday, June 16 – Friday, June 22)
  1. Personal appearance standards: For Women — Dress suit / pants suit / jacket and slacks with dress blouse / sweater or professional dress.   For Men — Suit / sport coat and slacks / dress shirt and tie.  These guidelines are consistent with personal appearance standards in pastoral care departments in most major hospitals.  Please note that hospital regulations prohibit the wearing of open-toed shoes.


Paul Riddle, D.Min., BCC – Houston
David Martin, D.Min., BCC – Ft. Worth
Tom Nuckels, D.Min. – Austin

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the intern program?
  • To provide students hands-on ministry experience providing spiritual support to hospital patients and their loved ones under the supervision of experienced professional chaplains.
  • To create a supportive learning environment in which students can develop greater self-awareness, grow in their listening and interpersonal skills, and reflect upon spiritual issues evoked by serious illness and loss.
  1. What is the patient population served by Lifeline’s interns?
  • Lifeline interns provide pastoral care to Church of Christ patients in designated hospitals served by Lifeline Chaplaincy.
  • Interns may also be assigned a staff chaplain mentor in their assigned hospital and may assist that chaplain in providing care to patients on that chaplain’s unit(s).
  1. Who is eligible to participate in the intern program?
  • The program is open to men and women who are juniors or seniors, and to graduate students.
  • Most interns come from Church of Christ affiliated universities.
  • Applicants from all universities are welcome.
  • Since most of the patients we serve are Church of Christ members, applicants need to have a Church of Christ background or sufficient familiarity with Church of Christ culture to be able to function appropriately with Church of Christ patients.
  1. In what cities does Lifeline have interns?
  • Houston, TX
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • Austin, TX
  1. Is there a stipend?
  • The stipend for 2017 was $ 3600 for the 12-week internship.
  1. What about housing?
  • Lifeline will arrange housing for you with a local church family.
  1. When does the internship begin, and when does it end?
  • The 2018 internship will begin on Friday, May 18 and end on Friday, August 10.
  1. How do I apply?
  • Application deadline: November 2, 2017.  Early submissions are encouraged.
  • To apply, submit your resume plus a letter describing your interest in the program to Paul Riddle at
  • We will contact you to arrange for an interview.
  1. Who can I contact if I have further questions?
  • Paul Riddle, Director of Spiritual Care, Lifeline Chaplaincy Houston, 888-767-6363,