Today's post was contributed by Concordia Chaplain Roger Nuerge. We're looking forward to regularly including more articles on spiritual care. Thanks Rev. Nuerge! ---
In an organization the size of Concordia Lutheran Ministries there are many departments. There's the nursing department, physical therapy department, maintenance department, housekeeping department, activities department and many others, just to name a few. Among all these there is also a chaplaincy department.
Most nursing facilities don't have a chaplaincy department at all, so why does Concordia have one that includes three chaplains, two deaconesses and several other professional spiritual caregivers?
Concordia Lutheran Ministries has a chaplaincy department because it is a faith-based organization. As a faith-based organization it believes that God is our Creator. It is He who has made us. In His word, the Bible, God tells us that He has made human beings to have three parts: body, soul and spirit.
What causes people to come to Concordia is usually an issue with their body. Some part of their body needs special care, rehab and rest. In many cases, the aging process has weakened and compromised the body so much that help and assistance is needed in everyday activities that were normally done with ease before. That's where the care of doctors, nurses and therapists come in. They address physical or bodily needs.
As human beings, however, we are made up of more than our bodies. We also have souls and spirits. When we encounter issues with our bodies, those issues often also affect our souls and spirits. Psalm 34:18 in the Bible says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 42:11 says, "Why are you cast down, O my soul?" The purpose of the chaplaincy department is to address these spiritual and soul needs that our residents have.
How can you tell if someone has a spiritual or soul need? Sometimes you can tell just by looking at them. The expression on their face may be pained. Their eyes might be moist with tears. They might be wringing their hands. Sometimes you can tell by their words. They express anxiety, worry, concern, anger, despair, loneliness, desperation, fear or other emotions that threaten their well-being and perhaps can hinder the healing process for which they are here.
When these soul and spiritual needs arise, the goal of the chaplaincy department is to help address and get through them. Bodily or physical needs are usually what bring people to Concordia, but the soul and spiritual needs are just as important. Concordia Lutheran Ministries considers them so important that there is a chaplaincy department to help people as they experience these needs.