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Churches fill spiritual care gap

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A regional health budget decision in B.C.’s Fraser Valley has removed chaplains and spiritual care workers from area hospitals, but local churches, through their ministerial associations, are acting to fill in the gap.

In Abbotsford, B.C., the Christian Leaders’ Network (ministerial) is embarking on an agreement with Fraser Health Authority to provide part-time spiritual care in the local hospital (.4 full-time equivalent “FTE”). They have made a $25,000 pledge to underwrite the costs. Neighbouring Langley, B.C., recently agreed to a comparable arrangement – at .3 FTE. And Chilliwack, B.C., churches are working toward a similar plan to fill the spiritual care vacuum at their local hospital.

Ministerials are asking church boards to pledge the needed funds, akin to an era predating the government’s entry into spiritual care provision. In Abbotsford, churches across a broad denominational spectrum have already pledged – bringing the plan almost to completion. At press time, one Mennonite Brethren church announced its financial support, but no other MB announcements had been made.

—Barrie McMaster

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