Age a matter of feeling, pastor believes CENTRAL--Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

February 23, 1993|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,Contributing Writer

The 38-year-old, newly installed chaplain of the Carroll Lutheran Village Retirement Community believes that you are only as old as you feel.

The Rev. Jimmie L. Schwartz was installed as full-time chaplain at a ceremony Sunday night. He has been working there since Oct. 19.

Before he came to Westminster, Mr. Schwartz was a pastoral counselor at the Pastoral Counseling and Consultation Centers of Greater Baltimore. From 1982 to 1987, he was a clergyman at the First Lutheran Church in Ellicott City.

Mr. Schwartz has a master of science degree from Loyola College and a master's of divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa. His new job makes him responsible for ministry to health care and independent residents.

"I desire to make opportunities available to the residents in which they can still participate," said Mr. Schwartz. "This is the first time that they have called on someone as a full-time chaplain. Before, they used volunteers and part-timers."

The Carroll Lutheran Village Retirement Community began out of the interest of 26 Lutheran organizations that were hoping to provide care for retired people. The village consists of cottages and apartments that house the independent residents, and a health care facility. It is a full-service facility, complete with its own bank, stores and postal service.

"My duties are to respond to the religious and spiritual needs of the residents," Mr. Schwartz said. "I am here to address their day-to-day needs. I'm available 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Mr. Schwartz, who has a wife and two sons, is involved in the Bible study and prayer group that meets in the health care center on Thursdays. He also conducts Bible study on Fridays in the independent living quarters, and has initiated a daily prayer session for residents, family and staff.

"Caring for someone in this facility can be stressful," he said. "Because of the type of care we provide there develops an attachment between the staff and the residents. The staff, while they're here to serve the residents, also have things going on in their lives and having someone to talk to is of great importance" to them.

Mr. Schwartz can relate to the pain that some of the staff and residents experience.

"Loss is not an issue that is foreign to me," he said. "We had a son who died in infancy, and I also have a mother who has lived in a health care facility for the past eight years.

"Our God is a God who knows and understands pain because he gave his Son for us. I want to remind the residents that they are not alone in their pain and suffering but there is another who understands."

Mr. Schwartz feels it is essential for the members of the community to participate in as many activities as possible, and he encourages them to lead worship services. At the installation service, the acolyte was a resident who is 100 years old.

The minister also commissioned the building of a special processional cross that was carried by a resident in a wheelchair.

He stresses that he is not there to take the place of the residents' home parishes, in many different Christian denominations.

"My purpose is to help the community blend together so that worship services can be shared by all," he said.

"Many of the residents still participate in their local parishes, and that's good. They educate others about what retirement is about."

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