Since 1985, the Network on Ministry in Specialized Settings (“COMISS”) has observed the last week of October as Spiritual Care Week – a time when we celebrate the sacred work of chaplains and pastoral counselors. This year’s Spiritual Care Week theme is “Collaborative Healthcare: Chaplains Complete the Picture.” Sometimes a picture is more informative and revealing than words. Often the ministry of chaplains and pastoral counselors extends beyond words alone as they provide emotional support and spiritual care to persons in need, an essential part of the holistic interdisciplinary care that is offered within a variety of settings. Their ministry is an extension of our missional work as a Fellowship, to embody the love of God and hope through Christ, as we work together to complete the picture of putting our faith into action, to renew our world.
Take a moment this week to celebrate and thank our CBF Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors for the good and sacred work that they do every day.
The Hospice Philosophy
By Lee Hendricks
The hospice philosophy is a holistic plan designed to address the patient and their support system with care specifically aimed at their personal end of life needs. S/he has just had a conversation with their physician who has given word that the patient has approximately six months to live if their condition takes its expected course. An option of hospice care is introduced and based upon the patient’s consent a team is invited into their world. The hospice team is composed of the medical director, nurses, clinical nursing assistants, medical social workers, bereavement coordinators and completing this picture are the chaplains.
Here’s is a photo to look at—a call was received from an activity director. Her patient was declining rapidly. He spoke of his spiritual conversion years ago and the minister spoke with him about baptism. Back to the present, this gentleman had told the activity director that he wanted to be immersed.
There were limitations—his immobility, no tub large enough to satisfy anything like a baptismal pool, the minister was no longer in the area and the coronavirus. With the blessing of their administrator, director of nursing, physical therapist and others, we arranged for a service where the patient was covered with white sheets and while lying in his gerichair in a private courtyard had ten staff and resident friends surround him and pour water from red buckets over him. Other staff and residents spaced around him erupted in applause. The delight in his face and the testimony he shared was a spectacular shining moment.
Consider a second picture of the care hospice chaplains collaboratively provide. Another patient comes to mind who had no interest in religious practices, but needed to talk through unresolved issues and find peace.
This patient was angry and threatening to end his own life violently. The hospice team met daily. The social worker and the chaplain made weekly visits and were responsive to patient identified needs. His nurse and nursing assistant were visiting on alternating days. As he received time and care focusing on his specific physical, emotional and spiritual needs, the threats of violence subsided, family conversations were arranged and the team assisted in helping him come to some peaceful resolution. The patient and his family were reconciled before he became “one with nature.”
Each person presents significant needs which can often be addressed when trust is established and a relational door is opened for the hospice chaplain to enter.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has made a great investment in the development and support of spiritual care providers. I will always be grateful for George Pickle and the Pastoral Care staff at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center investing in my transition into this fascinating ministry. A special word of thanks to Dr. Greg Rogers and the Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, N.C., for their years of commitment to supporting chaplains and others in this world of Collaborative Healthcare.
Together we stand as a CBF team with the mission of reaching those in vulnerable moments with the love of Jesus, and sometimes perhaps, Chaplains Complete the Picture.
Rev. Lee Hendricks pastored 3 churches in Georgia, Ohio and Virginia for almost 20 years. He has been providing pastoral care for hospice patients, their families and facility staff in eastern North Carolina for the past 14 years while mentoring chaplains nationwide who have been a part of AseraCare Hospice (now a part of the Amedisys Hospice system). Lee received his Master of Divinity from Temple Baptist Seminary and completed his master’s level Marriage and Family Therapy training at East Carolina University. Lee has 4 children and 5 grandchildren who bring the biggest smiles to his face.
We have more than 800 active professional CBF Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, serving throughout our country and worldwide, in a variety of specialized settings – all branches of the United States Armed Forces; the Civil Air Patrol; the Department of Veterans Affairs, hospitals and hospices, correctional institutions, fire, police, and rescue departments, colleges and universities, businesses and industries, retirement communities, counseling centers, private counseling practices, church staffs, and many other interdisciplinary settings.
To learn more about the work of CBF Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, please visit our webpage at https://cbf.net/chaplaincy-pastoral-counseling.
You can support the work of our CBF Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministries with gifts to the George Pickle Fund and Chaplaincy Assistance Fund.
I enjoyed your post. I believe God prepares everyone for some type of ministry. Some people don’t accept His calling, of course, some do. Each ministry has its own caveats. Their own burdens and pleasures. From what I read, you have been a pastor for many years. I’m sure you feel that God may have used those early years of ministry to prepare you to minister in the Hospice setting. I am in the later years of my work life, preparing for retirement. I have served only in minor capacities in the church. God has called me to work in the pastoral field of end of life needs and grief counseling for the family. I am working toward a degree in ministerial leadership with a focus on counseling. I’m wondering, when did you realize this is your calling? Was it an event or did you just know?