It's common for people to think of chaplains serving in the military and police fields, but in the growing scope of pastoral ministry, the United Church of Christ has a firm foundation in offering spiritual support for senior citizens.
The Rev. Stephen Boyd, UCC Minister for Chaplains and Specialized Ministers, made a visit to Phoebe Ministries in Allentown, Pa. on Nov. 12-13, to discuss how the UCC can continue to support the work done around continuing care retirement communities.
"I think [it's important] to help the UCC see how we have clergy in a variety of different kinds of settings, not just local churches. Our clergy are in important ministries," Boyd said. "This is becoming more and more important as we see changes in ministry opportunities. Many people are feeling called to chaplain ministries."
Phoebe Ministries is a non-profit organization specializing in healthcare, housing, and support services for senior adults. It was founded in 1903 and is affiliated with the UCC. Boyd toured two of Phoebe's four facilities in Allentown and Berks Village, meeting residents and speaking with staff about the UCC's Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization team (MESA) and how it supports chaplains in a broad range of ministry, talking about General Synod 29 in California next summer, and discussing areas of specialized ministry, like chaplains in health care.
"We're working much harder to make stronger connections with these people who are chaplains and health-care chaplains and making a stronger connection with the national office," Boyd said. "We have a substantial number of people ministering at various levels of healthcare."
The ministry UCC chaplains perform at continuing care retirement communities is instrumental in the ongoing care of the resident, Boyd said. People can enter into a continuing care retirement community while they are able to still care for themselves and begin working through critical care and end-of-life ministry. In addition to the tours, he met with 18 UCC chaplains and specialized ministers in the area.
"We should be very proud and take pride in the types of ministries and the types of roles these people play in other's lives," Boyd said.
To learn more about the UCC's ministry through the Phoebe Ministries Continuing Care Retirement Communities, visit their webpage at www.phoebe.org.