Church of the Waffle House

by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Communities of Faith Liaison

Waffle-House-ChurchIn my travels as the Communities of Faith Liaison for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, I have the opportunity to meet pastors from eight counties – each with a story to tell.  Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Thomas Conder at McKendree United Methodist Church in Lincolnton, NC.  Pastor Conder was easy to talk to, as he seemed like a regular, down-to-earth kind of guy.  You know, the kind of person with whom you’d like to go out to eat breakfast.

For that reason, when he told me about his Waffle House Ministry, I was not surprised, but I was inspired by his story.  A number of years ago he attended a seminar where they talked about taking the pastor out of the church – and into the community.  When Pastor Conder arrived in Lincolnton just over a year ago, he decided on the Waffle House, and he goes there every day to eat breakfast and to have a presence in the community. 

He doesn’t go to preach or invite people to church, although they know what he does for a living.  When a staff person or ‘a regular’ goes to the hospital, however, he’s there.  Since holidays are big in restaurants, many staff members are scheduled to work at that time, so last Christmas he brought Communion to those who wanted to participate.  A few have even started attending the church, based on the relationship he has developed with them over time.  Some tell them about who they are, about their losses, and their needs.  He is there to listen and to care.

Not unlike Pastor Conder, the role of our chaplains at HPCCR is to develop relationships with our patients and their families.   At times there may be months to build a strong connection, and other times they must quickly establish rapport to create an environment of trust so people may feel safe to talk about the things that really matter.  The skill of being fully present is a strength embodied in those who ask the questions of life’s deeper meaning.  Chaplains guide our patients and their families at the end of life to reflect, ask, forgive, and finally, to accept the things that cannot be changed.  One of the goals of our spiritual staff is to assist our patients to find and experience peace at life’s end.  This calling, if you will, is what makes our chaplains an invaluable asset to the hospice team.

I feel privileged to work with our 13 chaplains, as they truly understand and communicate what it means to be present, whether it is at a Waffle House or wherever you call home.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, education, hospice, Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County, religion, spiritual care

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