By Layne Rogerson
My final visit of the day was with a family who recently started hospice services.
At the conclusion of the visit the adult child walked me to the car and shared that several years ago she had attempted suicide when she was at a place in her life where she could see no hope. Now, she has confidence that with God she will always find hope, therefore she can face the family’s circumstance. However, she and her family have never discussed her suicide attempt and she asked, me, her chaplain, for guidance on how and when to have that conversation.
Every day over 800 CBF-endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors step out into this world that is hurting, lonely and afraid, and into hospitals, homes, prisons, military, schools, long-term care facilities, fire departments and many other specialized settings, where chaplains and pastoral counselors can sit with those who are hurting and celebrate with those who have found comfort and hope through their faith.
To “sit with someone” could look different in every situation. Sometimes it is being a trusted listener, one who cares and will hold a person’s story, so the burden feels a little lighter. Sometimes it is an Army chaplain serving communion to troops in a remote location, bringing that sacred ritual, that connects Christians across time and space. Sometimes it is that prison chaplain who brings spiritual and emotional comfort to an inmate who was not able to say goodbye to a dying parent. Sometimes it is that pastoral counselor who provides therapy to a family who has experienced unspeakable trauma.
This week, Spiritual and Pastoral Care Week 2021, we celebrate our beautifully diverse group of CBF-Endorsed Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors, who show up each day. And not just show up but do so with skills and gifts that bring comfort and healing.
As a CBF-endorsed chaplain, I celebrate CBF and the community, resources, and trust you have provided my colleagues and me as we serve as chaplains and pastoral counselors. May God continue to bless this partnership in ministry as we each seek to live out Jesus’ call on our lives.
*Details of pastoral encounters have been edited to protect the identity of the persons involved.
Layne Rogerson serves as Chaplain and Volunteer Coordinator for McLeod Hospice in Cheraw, S.C., and serves as Chairperson for CBF Council on Endorsement.