Hospital chaplains steady during change
From Amanda Abrams on RNS:
A common perception of clergy who work in hospitals is that they are there to perform last rites for the terminally ill, or prompt 11th-hour conversions. But chaplaincy has little do to with religion per se. “We try to hear their story,” says Rawlings. “To be able to tell your story is a way to become known and thus become less lonely, and connect with the spirit inside of us.”
While a large hospital will try to provide chaplains who match religious patients’ specific faiths — and possibly a humanist chaplain to cover those who are nonreligious — a chaplain of any faith should be able to minister to any patient.
“We don’t proselytize, and we’re not looking to change people’s belief systems,” says Amy Strano, director of spiritual care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
“We sit with people in the heartbreak of life. It’s about being with them and letting them grieve and share what’s on their hearts,” she explains. “We sometimes talk about the chaplain as a spiritual care specialist” — and that’s relevant whether “spiritual” refers to God, or to secular ideas of connection or significance.