| As we begin a
new month, I'd like to share with you the final two names on my "cloud of
witnesses" list (See "Bill's Bench", The Weaver, October 2006). These two were
my initial mentors in Christian ministry.
Ronald D. Erickson was Chaplain Supervisor at
Mounds-Midway Hospitals in St. Paul, MN. During the four quarters of Clinical
Pastoral Education I received under his leadership, my first steps in ministering
to others in Christ's name were taken. As a student at the American Baptist
Seminary of the West in Berkeley, CA., I entered into a full year's internship
in pastoral care. (I was glad to get away from the tear gas, barbed wire, and
National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets who were camped across the street from
the Seminary in the former "People's Park.")
The day after I arrived in St. Paul on the Great
Northern Empire Builder (a life-long dream), Ron and I were getting acquainted
when he casually inquired whether I had ever called on anyone in a hospital.
When I replied, "No", he immediately responded "Let's go make a call right now!"
and we did - and so began a year of jumping into experiences and ministry
settings with both feet first.
During that year I was assigned to pre-surgical
care, medical-surgical care, the bum unit, cardiac and intensive care; observed
a full autopsy done at the request of a patient prior to her death; ministered
to families whose loved one had died while a patient in the hospital, led a
discussion group formed by 1st year nursing students at the hospital's School
of Nursing; met daily with fellow interns in the program with me; and conducted
Sunday worship services in the chapels of both hospital. (Plus serenading the
evening switchboard operations on the organ in the Midway Hospital Chapel!)
| I think two major
learnings occurred during those 12+ months for me. Namely that: 1) death and
physical frailty are a part of life and not to be separated out into "special"
categories unrelated to the conduct of our daily lives and 2) the greatest
part of effective pastoral care is really hearing what the other person is
trying to tell you - even when their words are confused, unclear or even
My second mentor, Rev. Al Lustie, was pastor of
the First Baptist Church of Ellensburg, WA, when I accepted my first call to
a pastorate in Kittitas, WA. Al was an excellent pastor and congregational
leader, and I was hired one day per week to call on the shut-ins that were a
part of the FBC, Ellensburg family.
From Al I gained a deep appreciation for the
history of the people called Baptist, especially the different ethnic streams
that flow into what is today the American Baptist Churches, USA. While being a
very ecumenically oriented pastor, I think Al's love for the Baptist family
gave me a security in my own faith identity that has allowed me to draw
especially upon the experience of Catholics, Quakers, and Anglicans
(Episcopalians) to further enrich my personal walk with Christ.
Al was also a great student of the Bible, even
ordering books from Scotland when he couldn't find what he wanted in the US.
He helped me experience and realize how central the Bible is to our breed of
cat called Baptist.
While both of these men were my first professional
mentors helping to form my own way of doing ministry, they were also good
friends and caring shepherds who helped me grow as an individual and as a person