Reflections - By the Rev. Corrine Dautrich
Transition. Loss. Change. These are the words that come to mind this time of year. We have transitioned from an unusually wet summer into autumn and now winter. The daylight hours are short and the nights are longer. The trees are bare and the farmers’ fields are at rest, waiting for another spring, another season of growth. We only have to look all around and see there is change. Change is the constant factor, even if we try to hold on to “the way we’ve always done it before.”
As I write my first Reflections article, I’m aware with being called as the “new” chaplain for the Pastoral Care Department, there comes change. I will never fully replace Chaplain Paul Xander, who died suddenly last April. My role is not to replace Chaplain Paul, but simply to build on the ministry that he so faithfully served alongside Chaplain Kelly Brooks. He leaves behind a rich sense of humor and a beloved calling to chaplaincy.
Transitions are difficult to make, no matter what age or season of life (or setting) we may find ourselves. We often think we are able to “go with the flow” as we move from one thing to the next; one season to the next, one home to another, one job to the next. But sometimes making those transitions are more complex than we care to admit.The prophet Ecclesiastes reminds us that for everything there is a season, and that God has made everything for a particular time and place. Time passes…we grow…we age…we live our lives….we die. God continues to journey beside us in all those ways that we experience loss, change and transition. It’s good to be reminded that God always accompanies us in all of these seasons; for it keeps us grounded and offers us hope.
Transitioning into the role of chaplain at Good Shepherd has been one filled with gracious hospitality, acceptance and joy. Chaplain Kelly continues to offer me grace as I learn the culture and particularities of the position. I am humbled to serve as the first called chaplain ordained in the United Church of Christ denomination. I bring 15 years of ordained ministry in both chaplaincy and local church ministry to my role. My primary responsibilities will be the long-term care centers of the Good Shepherd Home-Bethlehem and the Raker Center.
My first call was a chaplain to Phoebe Allentown, a UCC faith-based organization. After 11 years, I left to serve as pastor at First UCC, Reading, and then at New Jerusalem UCC, Fleetwood. You may be surprised to know before entering the ministry, I served 12 years on active duty in the United States Air Force. Over the course of these many seasons along my journey, I was blessed with rewarding work, and gratifying and meaningful relationships and experiences.
So why Good Shepherd? When I learned about the chaplain position and the prospect of returning to a faith-based organization in the Lehigh Valley, I was thrilled with the opportunity. Yes…for everything there is a season, and God has indeed made everything for a particular time and place. I believe this new season of my own faith journey is exactly what God has in mind.