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Chaplain Highlight: Meredith Dark

Chaplain Meredith DarkWhat is your endorsement setting?

The setting that I am endorsed in is for a retirement community - The Methodist Oaks located in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

What prompted you to serve God in this setting?

I felt prompted to serve God in this setting because of my discernment towards chaplaincy. When I was in seminary, I originally began discerning a call to military chaplaincy; however, after seminary I was appointed to a local church as an associate and was in the process of completing my qualifications for the Board of Ordained Ministry in the South Carolina Conference. It was in the local church when I was working on a project for full ordination that I found I had a strong heart and desire to minister to older adults. Older adults face a magnitude of serious issues, and my project centered on ministering to the widows of the church I served. We had over 70 widows in our congregation, and my project was geared towards helping create a community for those ladies. Not only the group, but also being with older adults and their families in times of transition and end-of-life were areas in ministry are where I feel particularly called.

The UMC focuses on life transformation in Jesus Christ, what story can you share about transformation because of this ministry?

A story that I can share about transformation because of this ministry centers on end-of-life and permission to enter life eternal. Many times at the end of a family members' life, the individual in the dying process does not want to transition into life eternal. 1Corinthians 15:51-57 includes scripture that we, as United Methodists, often use in our services of death, resurrection, and committal. This scripture is life-giving because it affirms the hope that we have as Christians. As a chaplain, when I am sitting in a room with someone who appears to be waiting on permission to transition, I have found that if I suggest to the family to give that individual permission, or in the case that the individual does not have family, if I give the individual permission to transition, it helps to ease their spirit, mind, and body and frees them to go. "Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed... For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality... 'Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." The presence of the Holy Spirit in moments like this allows the person to feel comfortable to allow themselves to enjoy eternal life. These holy moments are some of the most precious times in my ministry, and I am blessed to be a part of them.

What brings you joy in this ministry?

There are many things that bring me joy in this ministry. One thing is when we hold chapel services in our nursing home on Sunday mornings. If anyone ever needs a visual interpretation on what the kingdom of God looks like, Amos Chapel on Sunday mornings in our nursing home is it! There is a flurry of activity on a Sunday morning, and there is much to be done. Everyone is a member of the kingdom of God! In the chapel we have residents from our skilled nursing area, assisted living, rehab, etc. There are different races represented, varying degrees of physical ability represented as most of the residents are on walkers or in wheel chairs, and we all share the commonality of believing in the life-saving power of the cross! I love to look out in our chapel

and see everyone there on Sunday, some dressed up some dressed down, everyone adamant about being present for chapel. This scene gives me joy because, to me, it is the most pure visual I have ever seen of the kingdom of God. To be able to spend time with our residents every Sunday and to be a part of a service that gives them a sense of home, both on earth and in heaven, is a deep affirmation of my calling. Psalm 28:7, "The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving."

What challenges you in this ministry?

One of my biggest challenges, not only in ministry but life in general, is myself. God is supposed to be ordering my steps, not my calendar or what I think is important; therefore, my biggest challenge is usually me and the false expectations that I have of myself. When I get anxious and worried, concerned and overcommitted, I have to step back and realize that God is much bigger than a meeting, a deadline, a commitment, and I'm only supposed to be, as Mother Teresa says, "a little pencil in God's hands," - God is writing the story. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" Luke 12:25-26.

The church wants to pray for you, what is your prayer request?

My prayer request is for the church to pray for the residents, their families, and those that work at The Methodist Oaks. May the residents be fulfilled, taken care of well, and enjoy their days here. May the families have the best interest of their loved ones at heart. May those who work not get discouraged, and find their purpose in what they do - may everything be done to the glory of God! 

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