Local clergy fill a need

Local clergy fill a need

Chaplaincy Care ministers in care facilities

by Eric A Thomas

Human interaction and spirituality can be important parts of an individual’s life. Both can become more important as people enter their twilight years, and particularly more vital for people living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. One Jacksonville group has been helping where they can since 2007.

Jacksonville Area Senior Chaplaincy Care, Inc. (JASCCI) was started by Reverend Dr. Gladys Herzog, with assistance and input from Bruce Pilcher, who served as chaplain to Passavant Area Hospital for many years. Herzog saw a void in meeting individual and corporate spiritual needs in residential care facilities, so together with Pilcher, the two formulated a board, recruited chaplains and other volunteers, and developed a framework to help tackle that need.

Many people living in these facilities have made the tough decision to leave their home – or their family had to make that decision for them. “Either way, Chaplaincy Care is a ministry that not only welcomes new residents but serves as a bridge between the family and the facility,” comments Jared Reno.

“This ministry provides opportunities to worship, study and to build on personal relationships with other residents.” Reno is a volunteer and board member for JASCCI, and pastor of Central Christian Church in Jacksonville.

JASCCI invites ministers to serve as chaplains. A master’s degree in ministry is preferred (M. Div., MTh, MA in religious studies, etc.), a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) or equivalent, plus pastoral ministry experience to serve. Many other volunteers and churches of the Christian faith help as well. They currently provide services to five facilities in Jacksonville. Cedarhurst of Jacksonville, Heritage Health, Jacksonville Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, The Pointe at Jacksonville and Lavender Ridge each currently use JASCCI services. Due to COVID-19, the group adheres to all quarantined restrictions.

They provide services on a weekly basis and the chaplains make their presence known by visiting with the residents and checking on the staff. The facilities often invite the chaplains to take part in special events such as birthdays, anniversaries or happy hours. Connecting with the individuals and the family members outside of regular services is important to the chaplains and volunteers.

“Serving God’s older family by providing encouragement, bringing hope, peace and love is what we are about. Holding a hand, providing a listening ear and encouraging the staff for the difference they are making in the precious residents.” adds Sharon Clayton, board president for JASCCI. All the services provided to the residence, staff and family are open to anyone who desires to attend.

Serving as lead chaplain for the group is Pastor Bill Baughman of First Baptist Church of Winchester, although he resides in Jacksonville. “We often have family members attend the services with their loved ones. My wife, CheriLynn, enjoyed the opportunity to worship together with her mother, Shirley Hornbeek, at Jacksonville Skilled Nursing,” concludes Baughman. When a loved one is no longer able to get out to attend their regular church, these services are vital to bring the residents a sense of normalcy.

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