"The hospital has truly become my parish, and the delivery of non-anxious presence to those in crisis situations is my passion," says Claude John "CJ" Malone. Malone recently joined Washington Regional as director of pastoral care, and he knows what he does "is greatly appreciated and helpful to staff, patients, family members and physicians."
But Malone also knows "patients are seeking healing and do not want a chaplain's theology or to be 'preached at.'" And that means "if a chaplain projects their own agenda, it becomes about the chaplain and not the patient."
"Over the past 25 years, the role of pastoral care has expanded and changed in many ways," Malone reflects. "Churches have become more active in offering trained pastoral care ministry; hospice services have grown exponentially and utilize the spiritual care of chaplains in the end of life process; and corporate chaplains now bring spiritual care and pastoral services to the workforce. In the corporate healthcare setting, chaplains struggle to find sustainability. In community-based healthcare settings, such as Washington Regional, one can see the value of pastoral and spiritual care being lived out."
Malone was born in St. Louis to what he describes as "hard-working parents" and grew up in Central Illinois.
"My father was a baker by trade and a country music artist who became a minister when I was young," he recounts. "He was evangelical in his ministry style, and I always enjoyed my father playing the guitar while he and my mother sang old gospel songs before delivering fiery sermons. He was truly entertaining, and as a youngster I took it all in.
"His understanding of the human condition helped me grasp the concept that all are made in the image of God (Imago Dei), and we all have worth and value," Malone goes on. "When members of his congregation were sick, he would go visit with them and often take me along. His compassion made an indelible mark on me."
Malone says he tried "sermon delivery from the chancel and worked as a youth minister, but neither of those ministry positions satisfied my soulful space. It wasn't until I discovered clinical pastoral education in the late 1980s through BroMenn Hospital in Bloomington, Ill., that I found my niche in ministry. Clinical pastoral education got me hooked."
At that time, Malone explains, training in clinical pastoral education wasn't available in the seminary but only in the hospital setting. In addition to supervising a staff of three part-time chaplains, clinical pastoral education students and 10 contract chaplains, at Washington Regional, his goal is to establish "a premiere chaplain residency program in Northwest Arkansas."
"The closest programs to us are over a hundred miles away -- UAMS at Little Rock and Hillcrest in Tulsa are the closest centers to offer such programs," he says. "Our program will offer students an opportunity to complete four units of clinical pastoral education in the course of a year and upon completion move into credentialing as a board-certified chaplain.
"Secondly," he says, "we will offer three units of clinical pastoral education to area clergy, Stephen Ministers, parish ministers, and spiritual care leaders of all faiths who want to ensure that they are delivering quality and professional pastoral care."
And, he adds, WRMC will offer "an intensive summer session for seminary students or ordinates in our area who are required to have a unit of CPE for ordination purposes. Finally, my goal is to introduce a spiritual assessment model to our staff and students that meets and exceeds the Joint Commission requirements and helps all of us understand what a chaplain is doing in that patient's room."
All that being said, Malone returns to the mission. To be a chaplain, he says, takes "a compassionate spirit, a willing soul and the ability to get your personal issues processed to the extent that it doesn't trigger in you while you are trying to be the non-anxious presence for the patient. A chaplain is willing and able to walk alongside those who are wounded and hurting. Not all pain a chaplain encounters is physical; much of it is emotional, spiritual, mental and those inner struggles with life issues that can be placed in one of five categories: God, self, others, circumstances, environment.
"A pastor and chaplain are not one and the same," he concludes. "Chaplaincy is specialized ministry for specialized settings and unique encounters."
NAN Religion on 11/02/2019
Print Headline: 'Non-anxious presence'