One of the things you may have noticed on the front page of each Placard issue is the emergency contact numbers for your clergy. Carla, Jane Anne, and I all care deeply for you and want to be available when you need us for spiritual support.
Sometimes we learn that a congregant has had surgery or a hospital stay that we weren’t aware of. (It is perfectly okay if you don’t wish to share that information, but in order for us to provide spiritual care, we need to know if you’ve been hospitalized.) In the old days, Poudre Valley Hospital kept a binder on the visitors’ desk with all patients listed by religion and denomination, and there were times when I dropped in for a visit with a UCC patient from outside Fort Collins, because I saw them listed that way. But with full implementation of HIPAA regulations, hospitals are no longer allowed to share that information. And the upshot is that you need to tell us if you plan to be hospitalized or when you are there unexpectedly…otherwise we have no way of knowing. With all of the option in northern Colorado, we also need to know where: PVH and Med Center of the Rockies, Banner and McKee, the Orthopedic Center and other surgery centers provide lots of options, so please help us know how to find you.
What is it like to receive a hospital visit? Before surgery, with your consent, ministers are allowed to come into pre-op with you to have a prayer. We often pray not just for a positive outcome of your procedure, but also for the people who care for you. Recently, Carla got the enviable task of visiting Ruby Louise Cronk, the newborn daughter of Cara and Owen, who are new to Plymouth…but not as new as Ruby Louise!
There are times, too, when we are present with members when they breathe their last. We don’t have “last rites” like Roman Catholics do, but it can be a comfort to have one of us there to offer a prayer and a blessing after the moment of death. The transition from this life into the next is a sacred time, just as a birth is, and we it is a privilege to accompany you in this journey.
You can also schedule a pastoral counseling appointment with your pastors. We are happy to listen and try to help you through the rocky times that all of us encounter. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety or another serious concern, we can also help refer you to a counselor or psychologist here in town. You don’t need to go it alone!
If you are home-bound, even temporarily, we also can arrange visits. Unlike most other professionals, we still make house calls. Carla is handling most home-bound visits, along with lay caregivers from our Calling/Caring Ministry. (Several of our deacons are also trained to bring communion, as well.)
Please be in touch and let us know how we can be of help. Again, you can find those numbers on the front page of the Placard. Read this month's Placard here.
Thank you for trusting us to care for you!
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.
At around 10:00 a.m., I was on my way back to Fort Collins from a very early morning pastoral care visit to one of our members at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, when I received a phone call from a friend. Using my hands-free calling (safe driving) speakerphone, I took the call. One can never be too careful on I-270!
“Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are Gerhard have good plans for food!” - Friend
“Yes, we do! When I get home, later, I should double check that everyone knows what they are bringing.” - Me
“Where are you now? It sounds like you are on the highway?” - Friend
“Yes, I am just returning from visiting one of my members at a hospital down in the Denver area.” - Me
“Why? What good does that do? You aren’t a doctor!” - Friend
“Because… it is just what we do.” - Me
I have reflected on my response since: “It is just what we do.” To those outside of the church, much of what we do as church community must seem very odd or otherworldly: visiting each other in the hospital, making blankets/shawls for blessing, calling on our friends on the anniversaries of loss, and even driving to Denver or beyond to just say “hello,” “God loves you,” and, “we are here.”
It is just what we do indeed! Let us all support each other in this season of light, this season of waiting, this delicate season of unfolding grace. It is just what we do…after all.
P.S. I stumbled upon this reflection from 2016 about those experiencing Christmastime Blues. Anna and I have made it available again for reading and listening. I hope it might be a small blessing.
The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph ("just Jake"), Associate Minister, came to Plymouth in 2014 having served in the national setting of the UCC on the board of Justice & Witness Ministries, the Coalition for LGBT Concerns, and the Chairperson of the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM). Jake has a passion for ecumenical work and has worked in a wide variety of churches and traditions. Read more about him on our staff page.