“It is better together!”

To attend Mennonite Health Assembly in Cleveland was to receive a shot of adrenaline. Weeks later I’m still on a high from the invigorating interactions and networking that happened for Chaplains. As keynote speaker Lewis Feldstein said, “It is better together!”

I was particularly blessed by the Chaplains’ off-site visit to the Cleveland Clinic. The department of spiritual care hosted us wonderfully, providing lunch and a tour. They are doing exciting research on the effects of spirituality on a person’s physical well-being. This research is informing the development of a Spiritual Risk Assessment that will bring spiritual care into full partnership in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. They hope the impact will be to move spiritual care from being adjunctive and supportive to being essential. How exciting to see this happening in one of the leading medical institutions in the country!

What an affirmation for our work as Chaplains in a variety of settings. The ministry of Chaplaincy can be lonely. It is important and necessary to know and benefit from the community of Mennonite Chaplains. As one Assembly participant commented, “networking feeds our souls.”

Another said, “The most helpful thing for me was to meet and connect with other chaplains in the field. I felt very welcomed and included, especially as a recent seminary grad and new chaplain.  Until the conference, I hadn’t realized there was a Mennonite Chaplains Association. I am excited that there is such a group because it can be a place where we can connect and support one another, share resources, and have a place to belong – as chaplains from a similar faith background.”

We need community in the sea of individualism that surrounds us. Even Jesus recognized his need for community, working with and relating closely to his disciples. They accompanied him to the garden of Gethsemane on that fateful night and he asked them to stay there while he prayed. But when he returned to find them sleeping, he said to Peter, “So could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:40-41).”

Not just once, but three times they were unable to stay awake with Jesus as he wrestled with accepting the cup of suffering and death. May we as Chaplains stay awake and pray with one another: It is better together!

By Cheryl Paulovich
MCA President