Reverend Carl Lindelien, H. Paul McCullough, and Michael Longanecker represent the many Minnesota chaplains who have stayed the course despite the challenges of chaplain ministry last year. Over forty chaplains serve across Minnesota in numerous capacities like medical, VA, long-term, hospice care, police, fire & EMT, prisons, jails, marketplace, MNATC, and sports teams.
Chaplain H. Paul McCullough serves as the AG Community Chaplain in Willmar, MN. His typical flow of ministry was knocked off its tracks in March of 2020. Routine chaplaincy calls for local police, hospitals, and first responders ceased for two months before doors opened for hospice care, in part because he himself contracted and recovered from COVID-19. Since March he has officiated memorial services for twenty-five individuals, some from his home church and many by request of members in the community. Most of those were officiated at gravesides, under outside tents, or in a home with only two or three people present.
For the most part, Chaplain Michael Longanecker has been working from the seclusion of his home office since March. Much of his ministry now offers comfort care to facility staff, patients, and coworkers by Zoom and phone calls. Michael describes 2020 by saying, “This is the most unusual situation I have found in my 35+ years of ministry, noting that I was a federal prison chaplain for 20 years.”
He has connected with hundreds of patients and their families around the upper Midwest, and that has provided some very rich and poignant experiences. While at times it has been a discouraging year, Michael believes, “The Holy Spirit brings moments of perspective when we do get to have those powerful moments of sharing with those suffering decline, loss and grief. God opens a door to provide and deliver the gifts of ministry we are entrusted with.”
Let’s remember to keep Chaplains in our prayers and believe God will continue to use them in unexpected ways. As Carl puts it, “The Holy Spirit brings us in at the right time, the right place, and with the right people to share the love and hope found in Jesus.”