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I am a Rural Pastor by Rev. Linda McPeak of La Crosse, WI

Greetings Moses Project! I am currently serving as Chaplain/Campus Pastor to Eagle Crest Communities in La Crosse, Wisconsin. With ten senior communities throughout Holmen, Onalaska and La Crosse, including senior living apartments, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing transitional care and rehabilitation.

I was most recently serving a rural congregation and long term healthcare facility in Houston, Minnesota. I am led by Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG), “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.” As a born and raised city girl, my husband and I purchased a farm five years ago to experience country rural living. Caring for dogs, cats, rabbit, mini donkeys, chickens, ducks, goats, cows and 70 acres of God’s creation, I am easily distracted by farm life.

As a Chaplain, I attend to the sacred stories of those confronting change in their lives. God is the source of all wholeness and comes near in the delightful, grateful, broken and despairing parts of life, even seeking them out. My intention is to help people move to a different phase of life with their faith and spiritual practices intact.

Clearly, in long-term care, there is the advantage of more time to spend with residents. This ultimately allows for deeper, more personal pastoral relationships between the chaplain, staff, resident and family members. There are many spiritual and emotional issues for those experiencing, serving and living in long-term care. The good news, though, is that the chaplain can journey with those involved as they process these emotions and feelings. In this setting, I have the opportunity to get to know residents well – their interests, hobbies, life work, values and beliefs. I can encourage residents to reflect on their lives and redefine meaning and purpose for their future living in a long-term care community.

My time with residents, families, and staff may include offering prayer, ritual, and/or sacraments; reading Scripture; participating in song; processing (e.g., helping others ask questions and address fears) and/or reframing a personal journey; accompanying a person during end-of-life care; or simply listening to what the resident has to say. When appropriate, I may also provide referrals or reconnect the resident to the faith community of his or her choice.

Perhaps the most important act of healing a chaplain can perform is speaking God’s promise that you are known and loved by the God who made you, the one who accompanies your joy and sorrow with the promise of life after death. My hope is that the residents, family and staff will be strengthened by the love of this unique community life.

In Christ’s Love, Pastor Linda

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