Archive for Chaplain

An Abundance of Baptists!

Old Time Religion

We were discussing the new patients being admitted to hospice care. One of our chaplains* explained that a patient had “. . . a Baptist background, but couldn’t attend church anymore.”

Moments later, describing the next new patient, the same chaplain said, “She was a Baptist, but hasn’t been in any church since ‘they started projecting those dumb songs on the wall.’” He paused, then smiled. “Her words, not mine.”

And then, about another of his assigned patients: “He was raised Baptist, but said he lost interest in going to church after his children grew up and moved away.”

On that morning, at our patient care meeting**, it seemed each of that particular chaplain’s new patients were raised in, had been affiliated with, or were once deeply involved in churches from the many variations of the Baptist denomination. Hey, how many Baptists can you fit in a room?

But it’s just as likely the next meeting, with the next new patients, will reveal a variety of religious allegiances: Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim . . . along with the vast array of Christian “tribes” (from Armenian Orthodox through Russian Molokan to the Church of the Latter Day Saints). While there may not be as many religions as grains of sand on the beach, counting them would still be intimidating. There are major religions. Minor religions. There are faith traditions that hardly anyone practices anymore. Some denominations are growing and expanding. Certain ones seem quaint (and are often stereotyped) like the Amish. There are examples like Scientology, which may not be considered a religion, or even religious, by many—but it represents the only way to have meaning in life by adherents. Read More →

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Why Do Patients Refuse to Meet the Hospice Chaplain?

My boss and I had a brief, pleasant disagreement about the title of “chaplain.” She (I hope this is a fair summation) worries that certain hospice patients refuse a chaplain’s visit because of the title.

Could introducing someone as a “chaplain” lead to a closed door?

I think my boss is right. And . . . wrong.

Even though she’s correct 98.3% of the time (please tell her I said that), I wonder if the stumbling block is what a chaplain is perceived to represent. Wasn’t Shakespeare correct in “Romeo and Juliet:” What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet? Whether the chaplain is Jewish or Buddhist, a layperson or professional clergy, volunteer or paid, they all carry the fragrance (or stink) of . . .


Since ordination in 1977, I’ve had various titles: deacon, elder, minister, pastor, associate pastor, senior minister, lead minister, new church start pastor, campus minister, hospice chaplain, and currently a bereavement support specialist. When a new hospice staff member or a grieving family member asks about my background, I’ll mention I’m a United Methodist clergy.


Not good? Good? An open door? A closed door? Read More →

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A Hospice Patient’s Hand-Me-Down Gifts

We can never experience what another touched, heard, smelled, tasted, or saw.

For example, I’ve been with friends that ordered a favorite dish at a restaurant and asked me to give it a try. Just a bite!

“Delicious, right?” my table companion gushed.

Not really, I concluded after a nibble. If I’m polite, I’ll mumble thanks for the, for me, underwhelming cuisine. My taste buds are different than yours; yours different than mine. It’s the same with all of our senses and sensibilities. Variety, don’t they say, is the spice of life?

Or can we experience another’s perspective? Even in hospice? Read More →

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