Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village chaplain says 'it's what I always wanted to do'

October 04, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Judith Clister will be the first to admit that her path to the ministry was a long and circuitous one ? a circumstance she believes was no accident.

Clister, 58, has been chaplain at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village on Mapleville Road since March. The position is part time, though the duties are many.

After earning her undergraduate degree in elementary education in Ohio, Clister went to Virginia Commonwealth University for her master's degree.

She taught school for a time, and for the past 20 years was a school counselor in Virginia. She also managed to be involved in the ministry as a choir director, and with youth groups and Sunday school.

"I enjoyed teaching, but when you get the call, you get the call," Clister said.

Clister's years in education prepared her well for the ministry. As a counselor, the work she was doing with families was very much a ministry.


Clister had just retired from teaching in 2006 when the position at Fahrney-Keedy opened.

"It's my first chaplaincy ... it's what I always wanted to do," Clister said.

She started a year ago as the interim chaplain under Louis Emerick, who had been chaplain for 15 years or more. Still a resident at Fahrney-Keedy, Emerick is retired.

Clister was licensed in 2004 through the Church of the Brethren. That licensure is renewable annually, and the process involves her taking classes and attending seminary.

Clister is doing some of that work online at Bethany Seminary and Eastern Mennonite University.

"I never saw myself in a pulpit," Clister said.

But in her work at Fahrney-Keedy, she holds Sunday services at 10 a.m. and vespers Wednesdays at 4 p.m.

As chaplain, Clister is called upon to meet the spiritual needs of the 200 residents, which might take the form of praying and reading scripture, or listening and laughing with them.

She hears that the residents are thankful she is there for them.

"I'm like a secondary pastor ? the residents' own pastors minister to them, too," Clister said.  

Clister said she loves the wisdom and fun she shares with residents, and she is amazed by the diversity of opinions they have.

"They aren't all traditional in their thinking," she said.

Clister said there are two male residents in their 90s who have told her they are voting for Hillary Clinton for president.

"They said they are voting for her because the men (presidents) have messed things up," Clister said.

When she is not busy with her chaplain duties, Clister said she enjoys the outdoors ? camping, hiking, biking and gardening.

Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village is a continuing-care retirement community that provides care through a broad range of services for those 60 and older.

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