William P. Steinke, D.Min. 2012
When the Rev. Dr. Bill Steinke, UCC, first assumed responsibilities as a hospice chaplain, it upset him to hear staff members describe patients as “confused.”
The new chaplain didn’t know how to address the problem, so he started reading Carl Jung and Ann Ulanov, who provided a theological interpretation of Jung’s works. From his studies, Bill learned to interpret the symbolic language of his patients and became better able to support and guide them in their transition from this life to the next.
While still serving as a hospice chaplain with Allina Hospitals and Clinics in the Twin Cities, Bill investigated Doctor of Ministry programs at local seminaries. Too often, he heard, “No, you can’t do that; it’s not in our program.”
In contrast, Jean Morris Trumbauer, director of the D.Min. program at United, encouraged Bill to design his own course of study to enhance the kind of ministry he felt called to do. He said, ‘“When I had an idea, not once did Jean say, ‘It can’t be done.’ Instead, she said, ‘We’ll figure out how to do it.”’
Bill chose to focus on Jungian theory and end-of-life issues. His dissertation, The Language of Dying: hospice talk, addresses three main topics related to hospice care: 1) dreams; 2) what people say; and 3) what people do. He received his D.Min. degree at United’s 50th commencement exercises on May 20, 2012.
In the meantime, after a total of 20 years as a hospice chaplain, Bill retired from Allina in September 2011 and has since moved to Mesa, Arizona. However, Serenity Hospice in Phoenix soon discovered the “retired” chaplain and offered him a 30-hour/week position. Bill will tell you that none of Serenity’s 250 patients is “confused.” He would know. He’s fluent in the language of dying.