Meeting the Spiritual Needs in a Community

INSPIRE – Affirm the expression of personal values and beliefs by seeking meaning and purpose for the depth and breadth of life.

As Blakeford was developing our Six Dimensions of WellLife, we took into serious consideration the needs and requests of residents and team members. What we discovered was a desire for Blakeford to offer additional support of activities and resources in the area of spiritual wellness and programming. Blakeford is a not-for-profit, community-based Continuing Care Retirement Community not affiliated with any religious or faith organization. However, responding to this specific desire helps bring our community’s WellLife model full circle.

In September 2014, Blakeford partnered with the St. Thomas/Nashville Clinical Pastoral Education Partnership (CPE) to help us in creating this new service for residents and team members. As a result of this partnership, we recently welcomed Chaplain John Routzahn to our team.

In his role, Chaplain Routzahn will:

    • offer pastoral and spiritual care and visitation for all residents throughout the community, family members, and team members in one-on-one setting and group settings;
    • serve as a liaison with community clergy, churches and resident’s home faith communities;
    • coordinate with local clergy to perform worship services and offer religious study programs where there is a need for such programs; and
    • assist with the identification of resources and coordination of support groups for residents, family members and team members (such as grief support, caregiver support, etc.).

John RoutzahnA native of Frederick, Maryland, Chaplain Routzahn attended Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Following graduation from seminary, he was led to Northern California where he became an Ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) and Assistant Minister at a PCA church plant. Shortly after this time, he felt the call to chaplaincy rather than church ministry. It was at this time he decided to attend the U.S. Army Chaplaincy Office Basic Course. He became active duty with the Army in 1991 where he served as Army chaplain. He was deployed into a combat theater 6 times during his military career. He has recently retired from serving for 21 years in this role but he desired to continue his chaplaincy work specifically with older adults so he applied to the St. Thomas/Nashville Clinical Pastoral Education program and was accepted.

Chaplain Routzahn recently sat down to talk about his new role at Blakeford.

What led you to chaplaincy rather than church ministry?  Wow, now this question would take up your whole blog! Ha, Ha!  Let’s just say that though I enjoyed my time in the local church, I knew even before I was ordained that I wanted to serve as a chaplain in the uniform service. I put that generally, because initially I had wanted to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. Marine Corps, but through a rather unforeseen journey ended up in the U.S. Army. Personality and character had a lot to do with seeking ministry in the Army too.

Why did you decide to pursue a chaplaincy in a retirement community setting?  Well, over the past 7 years my pastoral role in post chapels increased dramatically culminating with serving as the Senior Pastor at my last two chapels in which I served. Though a sizable population of the attendees are young soldiers and their families, the majority of the parishioners are retirees. These many retirees are vibrant and very active in both their community and chapel, and I just grew in my love and respect for them. Close to my heart also is the fact that my father (87 years young!) loves living in an Assisted Living Residence in Frederick, Maryland.  Between these two facts I know that God created this desire in me and gave me this direction for future ministry.

What has been the initial response from residents and team members to your arrival at Blakeford?  Overwhelmingly accepting and welcoming to me. I can tell that across the board both the residents and team members have anticipated having a chaplain for a long time. Though it hasn’t even been a month, I feel like I’ve been here much longer and am very much a part of the Blakeford family.

DSCF0644_webWhat have been your first impressions of Blakeford?  Well my first impressions will truly be lasting impressions…and all of them just unbelievably good! This is a community that is tight knit and where they truly care for one another. Regardless of being a resident or a team member there is no dissonance and thus I feel the synergy that permeates the Blakeford. It is a real privilege and honor to be here, and I hope that God is honored by my time too.

What role would you like to play in the Blakeford community – both for residents and team members?  I would very much like to provide the pastoral care and facilitate spiritual support for this community. Currently there are many great activities going on that address spiritual/religious needs of the residents. These activities have been taking place for quite some time and are a treasured essentials of this community. But I would like to focus on the areas of ministry that will augment or supplement what is already in place. I’ve spent some great time visiting with residents and with the team members. I’ve prayed with people, served communion, and just sat and talked. I also know there is a desire for special services and activities so I look forward to conducting such events in the future. But in the end, I would like for people to know that I’m here to serve.

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