FOR the last 15 years Lutheran Community Care has looked after the Queensland Lutheran Church’s Hospital Chaplaincy ministry.

Our Lutheran hospital chaplains are a unique group of Lutheran volunteers, whose shared skill is their ability to listen and be the presence of Christ to those in need.

“It takes a special type of person to be a hospital chaplain because you are visiting people who are facing life situations that can be very challenging for them, such as a serious operation or a significant health challenge,” Lutheran Community Care (LCC) Director of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care Pastor Paul Semmler said.

“The chaplains spend quality time with these people in the most intense times of their life and then they might never see them again, so their role is a very special one. It is also a very important one in the Lutheran Church, as hospital care has always been an essential part of the Christian Church’s mission, going back many years.”

How it works

Each chaplain is attached to a particular hospital and they visit patients there once a week. All work done in the hospitals is carried out under the supervision of the hospital’s pastoral care team.

LCC uses money raised through LCC’s annual Easter Appeal to fund this very caring and personal ministry.

Through those funds LCC provides financial support for the chaplains in the form of helping to cover any training required and assistance to cover the volunteers’ hospital parking, petrol and stationery costs. The chaplains also get together for monthly debriefing and support sessions.

Our chaplains

Cathy Brown, who has been a hospital chaplain for 13 years, visits Prince Charles Hospital and the Holy Spirit Northside Private Hospital, both on Brisbane’s north side, and said the role required a degree of nimbleness.

“Forest Gump said ‘life is like a box of chocolates; you don’t know what you are going to get’ and that is a bit like hospital chaplaincy,” she said.

“Sometimes there can be no-one who wants to see you, other times there can be 10 people waiting for you to visit. The length of those visits can also vary greatly: one day you might see five people in two hours, another day it could be two people in five hours.”

Retired TAFE teacher Doris Mortimer has been volunteering at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital and Redlands Hospital for four years.

Doris said listening skills were crucial for the role.

“I see hospital chaplaincy as a way of helping people,” she said.