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HERALDING NEWS FROM NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY “THE CONNECTION IS MADE, often in the absence of words, through a gentle touch, a long and loving exchange of truly seeing each other, holding a frail hand, reading a Psalm, or simply sitting and meditating by the sound of the laboring breath of the dying. It is a deep connection that I highly value and am honored to experience.” This is fulfillment for Stergios Skatharoudis, (C25, MA/ MSW) who is called to hospice care. With increasing numbers of people ending their life journey in a hospice facility there is a growing need for this ministry. Yet many take other directions as the challenges are significant. Harold Scott, adjunct professor for Ministry to the Dying and Bereaved and pastor of community care at Pearce Memorial Church in North Chili, N.Y., notes, “People who are dying are often depressed and struggling with their pending death. Many encounters result in conversations about how unfair life is and questions about why God didn’t heal them. There is often an overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness. Unresolved issues and broken relationships often come to the surface.” The challenge for Skatharoudis is in the cycle of making deep connections with the dying and their loved ones, followed by the need to detach once they have died, and then to form another connection that serves a new person and their needs and desires. He reflects, “In this ministry of loss, grief, joy, and celebration—all mingled into one—the challenge is to be present in all the moments.” So of all the contexts for ministry why would someone commit to hospice care? Rev. Brenda VOL. 10, NO. 2 ■ MARCH 2013 Sherman (M.Div. ‘09), chaplain at Hospice and Palliative Care in Cheektowaga, N.Y., recalls that sense of “giving something back” during the bedside care that was part of her field education placements. Her subsequent work with cancer patients was, she shares, “divine preparation for something I didn’t even know was in my future.” She discovered how spiritually serene death could be as she facilitated family members in their bedside reminiscing of cherished memories and how that led to a room filled with laughter, a perceived response by the patient, and resulting joy for loved ones. At those moments of transition she has seen family bonds strengthened as they become united in their support of each other. Skatharoudis had a different starting point noting, “I was compelled to serve in a hospice setting due to my own fear of death and so I started training to become a full-time volunteer.” In the midst of this fear he dealt with his own emotional issues, learning how to love being at the bedside of a dying client, and learning to honor and respect the mourning of friends and families. “I am fulfilled by sharing my humanity and humility with the dying,” he said. “This is a ministry where God's presence is felt deeply. After years of ministry Scott continues to find joy in helping people to discover meaning and hope even as they are dying. “It is a gift to assist people in finding grace and forgiveness and in completing some of their final life’s tasks,” he says. “The knowledge that we have assisted in bringing closure to their earthly Hospice Ministry Biblical Scholar Named to Faculty Presidential Transition Successful Accreditation Upcoming Events Community News Continued on page 2 Church Renewal

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