The mission of Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), “to honor God by enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults,” is fulfilled when the actions of our employees demonstrate our stated values. In doing so, they “make their mark” upon those we serve. In our continuing series, “Make Your Mark,” we introduce you to PHS employees who are living out these values.
In today’s Make Your Mark spotlight, we share a story about Campus Pastor Bob Corey. At age 74, he comes with rich experience and knowledge — having completed a doctorate in ministry just three years ago. Pastor Bob is also a PHS resident: after living at Beacon Hill in Eden Prairie, MN, for seven years, he moved to Stonecrest in Woodbury, MN, last year. Starting in January, Pastor Bob accepted the role of Campus Pastor at Founders Ridge and happily commutes to Bloomington, MN, to minister to older adults. Wow!
Some would say he arrived just in time. Campus Administrator Jen Brodahl notes his service excellence: “Pastor Bob has been a great addition and blessing to our community. He was only with our community for three months before COVID changed how we do everything. Because Founders Ridge has the technology to broadcast a live feed, Pastor Bob has been able to provide weekly church services and Bible studies during this time of COVID.” Jen adds, “He has great passion and skill in teaching and educating. His ability to meet residents where they are is a gift.”
Pastor Bob demonstrates courage, mental flexibility and resolve to “serve others, whatever it takes” — reaching residents with the spiritual comfort and connection they need. Optage Hospice Chaplain Jenny Schroedel says, “Pastor Bob inspires me. He sets an example of one who embodies active aging. He overcame initial feelings of hesitancy to embrace a new way of doing things and adapt in response to the pandemic.”
“At first I thought this is terrible,” said Pastor Bob. “We pastors can’t be in the same space with those we minister to.” He continues, “Do you know that saying, ‘Make lemonade out of lemons’? Well, if digital technology is what we have available for communicating, I’m going to use it. Now I enjoy thinking of lots of things we can do so we’re not immobilized.”
He is compelled by the grief he notices in some residents and says, “Most of the time you can see it in their eyes. It’s not necessarily the loss of someone. It’s the loss of critical abilities.” Instead of waiting for things to return to normal, he engages them as peers: “I tell them, ‘Even when you must do some things that you’re not familiar with – that maybe don’t feel as good to you – you can still accomplish the most important things, which are connecting and finding purpose.”
Pastor Chris Wheatley, PHS Senior Director of Pastoral Programming, says, “In our most recent meeting of pastors and chaplains, we discussed the overall trends with regard to spiritual needs at our communities. While there were certainly reports of some residents losing patience and waiting for things to ‘return to normal,’ other pastors said that the residents enjoyed coming up with new ways to share love and community that they hoped might last, even after COVID is a distant memory.” He continues, “In all cases, the key takeaway seems to be that there is greater focus on those things that are essential. Whether positive or negative, hopeful or despairing, our clients and residents want to have bigger conversations about more critical topics.”
We at PHS are grateful to Pastor Bob and all 55 Campus Pastors and Chaplains who have stepped into the gaps in 2020. They make their mark by demonstrating service excellence, responding to residents whose profound questions need reflective spiritual answers.
In recognition of Clergy Appreciation Month, Pastor Chris noted, “It is an honor to serve among pastors and chaplains who know the importance of this need and can respond to the change in spiritual discussion as a whole. These are ministers who are drawn to older adults out of love and a desire to share joy, but also can honor grief and have deep conversations with eternal implications. They are a key strength of Presbyterian Homes, and part of what makes us different.”
Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to make a mark at www.preshomes.org/careers.
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