BRIDGEWATER — One of the first things Rev. Russ Barb remembers about C.D. Lantz was how during a Church of the Brethren Service, Lantz advocated for what would become Bridgewater Retirement Community.
Now, Barb, the director of pastoral care for BRC, is beginning a chaplaincy institute at BRC with help from Lantz’s daughter, Carolyn Hatcher, who gave a gift of $25,000 to build the program.
Classes of about four students per unit will learn via web classes and experience-based coursework, on top of 400 hours of clinical work, Barb said.
“It’s quite a commitment,” he said.
The clinical pastoral program will be the first of its kind in the state and will be associated with the Spiritual Care Association and the Institute for Clinical Pastoral Training, Barb said.
The program will have national accreditation through the partnerships.
Chaplains are part of the care process for residents at BRC and are trained in “clinical pastoral psychotherapy,” Barb said.
“We are trained to deal with trauma, death and dying, grief support groups, so we want to be able to train folks to do that,” Barb said.
And interest in chaplaincy has grown, he said.
“In nursing literature alone, interest in spirituality has increased exponentially over the last couple decades,” Barb said.
Between 1981 and 1991, there were only seven articles on spirituality and nursing on PubMed, a biomedical literature review site, Barb said. “In 2001 to 2011, there were 407.”
“What a lot of folks don’t understand about [BRC] is we are affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, but we are deliberately nonsectarian in terms of who gets to live here and what happens here,” said Crista Cabe, director of marketing and sales for BRC.
Those same ideas are carried over in the spiritual life aspects of BRC, Barb said.
C.D. Lantz and his wife, Virgie Ruth Carr, donated $1 million to BRC to pay for the construction of a chapel at the retirement community, which was completed in 1988.
Today, the chapel hosts a variety of activities from services to play rehearsals.
“It’s a buzz of energy,” Barb said.