Chaplains Proving More Valuable Than Ever

December 30, 2022, Chaplains

Chaplains Proving More Valuable Than Ever

Although nearly three full years have passed since the outbreak of Covid-19, the virus continues to shape the way we live, work, and even worship. The adaptations we have all had to make to promote safety and prevent transmission have changed our social patterns in seemingly countless ways.

To give just one example, in hospice and palliative care the pandemic has increased the already important role played by our diverse team of Christian and Jewish chaplains.

Fortunately, we have extraordinary professionals such as Donnell Nelson who are dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of patients and their loved ones.

Spiritual Connection & Simple Human Contact

Ever since Covid-19 began to spread worldwide in early 2020, we have had to make do with less face-to-face interaction with family, friends, colleagues, and clergy, among many others.

As a result, many people – if not most or even all – are coming into hospice care having experienced significant reductions in the amount of time spent with their vitally important sources of support. And some of the restrictions on interaction remain, particularly for those who are physically vulnerable.

Consequently, they are leaning more heavily than ever on our corps of chaplains not only for spiritual connection but also for simple human contact. Like his colleagues, Chaplain Nelson says he is not only prepared for the challenge. He cherishes it.

“I value every opportunity that I get to go meet people where they are and be a part of their lives – because you never know what they’re going through,” Nelson said.

Nelson knows firsthand what it is like to navigate difficult circumstances and duties. He served in the U.S. Army as a medic for more than 20 years. During his service to our country, he felt called to serve in another way, by joining the clergy.

In addition to being a Gilchrist chaplain, Nelson is associate minister of City Temple Baptist, the same Baltimore City church he attended as a child. He is also a husband and father of four.

Nelson describes his work as a chaplain as “front-line ministry,” meaning he goes wherever people need him to deliver whatever it is they need.

“The good thing about Gilchrist is you don’t have to be religious. Being religious is not a prerequisite,” Nelson explained. “You just have to want to be a part of what we offer. We’re an additional support element to be there to support you and talk about anything you want to talk about. If you want to talk about weather, sports, cooking, cars, whatever it is that you want to talk about, that’s what I’m here for – as an additional support element.”

‘This Is a Calling’

Nelson says that some patients are initially apprehensive about working with a chaplain, especially those who have not been all that religiously observant in the past. But they often warm up to the experience as they develop a rapport with the chaplain, who is sometimes the only person they can talk to about matters not related directly to their physical health. The same goes for family members who can build relationships with a chaplain that nourish them through the grieving process after their loved one passes.

Nelson clearly loves to care for his patients and their families.

“This is a calling. I have a passion to serve and be there for people. This is about my love of people,” he said.

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One thought on “Chaplains Proving More Valuable Than Ever

  1. Folks, Id like very much to communicate with reverand, Donnell Nelson directly if its possible? My email is Thank you! Frank A. Kahler jr St Micheals, MD

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