It is so good to be home with Jennifer and the girls (all 5 of them)! It’s been a long month filled with challenges, grief, sorrow and uncertainty, and, moments of incredible beauty, grace and generosity.
On March 17th I responded to a request to serve as part of the critical care response team at the Moncton Hospitals. For the past few years I have worked as part-time denominational Chaplain for both hospitals in Moncton. When the hospitals went into pandemic mode and restricted the visits of all clergy to the hospitals, denominational chaplains were asked to serve in a critical response role to patients at end of life.
In considering this request, as I felt called to respond, yet not knowing the level of risk, Jennifer and I decided that it would be best if I stayed elsewhere during my time of service as there were our three daughters at home and two International Students. Initially, I planned to put a mattress on the floor of the office. Somehow, I can’t remember how, Anne Pirie learned of my plans and offered me the use of the apartment attached to her home. And so it was that on March 19th I moved to Sackville – the day after a trip to Wolfville to bring Mia home from Acadia.
On March 22nd the border between NS and NB closed. I learned this news as I returned to Sackville from visiting Jen and the kids from the driveway, having picked up a couple things I needed and leaving them some Girl Guide cookies.
For the next three weeks my life consisted of driving to Moncton at least every other day where I would spend three to five hours providing spiritual care to folk at the two hospitals. During many hours of driving back and forth I would call members of the congregation and folk who had been part of congregations I had served in the past. There were some deeply meaningful moments of connection and reconnection!
As I sought to care for others I found myself cared for in so very many ways. And, at the risk of leaving someone out, I must express my appreciation to a few of those who cared for me.
Anne Pirie. Anne, words cannot begin to express my gratitude for your gift of hospitality and care. It was deeply comforting to return to that little apartment each evening and to know that you were on the other side of the wall. Thank you for EVERYTHING you did to welcome me and to make my stay comfortable!
Mora MacDonald. Not many can say that they’ve washed their minister’s dirty laundry. You can! Thank you. Your ministry to me allowed me to minister to others. Thank you.
Shawna Hopkins, Frank and Eva Dickson, David & Diane Fullerton, Janet Hammock & Marilyn Lerch, Catherine Gaw & Elsie MacDonald and Luc & Sarah Poirer, your gifts of food: cookies, soups, bread and beer sustained me in spirit as in body. And for the conversations via telephone and Zoom, thank you.
Thank you as well to the volunteer leadership within the Pastoral Charge: Jane, Gayle, Bernice, Julien, Elsie, Chrystal, Janet, Lois & Diane. Thank you for your support and care. Thank you for agreeing to maintain confidence about my absence from home. Thank you for your prayers and your continued support of this ministry that is ours together.
And finally, thank you to Jennifer and the rest of our family who supported me in responding to this call to serve. It is challenging to be apart from those we love at the best of times – and it was especially difficult given the uncertainty that this current situation places all of us in. It is so very good to be home!
In the coming days, I will for the most part follow the advice of the Premier of NS and ‘stay the blazes home’. My schedule will look something like this: Monday – Thursday will be regular work days. I will be working from home, making phone calls, Zoom meetings, reading, writing and preparing for Sunday. Friday and Saturdays will be my days off.
Each Friday morning I will travel to Moncton where I will continue my chaplaincy role at the Moncton hospitals for 3 to 4 hours (another individual has been hired for the critical response team). As I return from Moncton each Friday I will drop by the Church office to attend to anything needing my attention and respond to any pastoral situations that may require a driveway visit.
On Sunday I will again travel across the border to Sackville where together with Carolyn, Jennie and Edward we will offer A Sunday Gathering Online via Facebook Live. And remember, if you have any suggestions for improvement or helpful feedback about what we are doing – be in communication. We are all doing our best to provide meaningful opportunities for spiritual engagement and nurture in a challenging situation.
In conclusion, thank you all for your continued support of this ministry that is the Sackville Pastoral Charge – a ministry that is yours and mine together, a ministry that requires our continued prayerful and financial support. Please hold those of us in leadership roles in prayer. Pray for your neighbours, your family, pray for those who don’t know who are affected by this situation. And please, if you have not already done so, consider signing up for PAR (Pre-Authorized Remittance) or failing that, write a series of post-dated cheques and get them to the Church Office. With the closure of our church buildings there has been a drop in donations and a loss of revenue. With the absence of income from yard sales, use of dishes and donations for the use of the space by community groups, income is reduced. And if you are on PAR, and if you are in a position to do so, perhaps you might consider a special donation to assist your Church community at this time?
In Resurrection Hope,
(the Rev.) Lloyd Bruce BA Mdiv Phone: (506) 940-1151
Minister, Sackville Pastoral Charge Email: firstname.lastname@example.org