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Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care

Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care

Chaplaincy at the Baptist Health System is one of the clearest expressions of dedication to the Baptist Health System Mission. During the past fifty-five years, BHS Chaplaincy has grown in grace and in service to those who are suffering, frightened, and bereaved; as well as to those who seek a means of expressing their gratitude for healing, for new life, and for hope in the future.

The primary ministry of our hospital chaplains is to those patients and family members who need support throughout the pathways of illness, injury, and recovery. Our chaplains serve in all areas of all BHS hospitals: in the emergency rooms, in the waiting rooms, in patient rooms and in classrooms. Hospice and Home Health chaplains move outside the hospital to visit in the homes of patients. Any patient or family who asks to see a chaplain will find one available around the clock, seven days a week, regardless of holidays. BHS chaplains are there to answer the call and to stay as long as they are needed.

We recognize that our patients come from all walks of life and bring with them a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds. We carefully minister to each individual, sensitive to the patient's personal beliefs, in the spirit of Jesus in whom we believe. Baptist Health System chaplains provide regular worship opportunities in the hospital chapels and provide special worship observances for patients who request them. And always, our chaplains are ready to join with patients, their families and hospital staff in moments of prayer.

Care for the sick...support for others who work in the healing arts...education for ministry...worship...prayer. These things we do as a witness to the love of God.

Helen Keller, though encased in the double walls of deafness and blindness once said, "I believe that life is a gift to us so that we may grow in love. And, I believe that God is in me as the sun is in the color and fragrance of flower, the light in my darkness the voice in my silence." This is the ministry of the BHS Pastoral Care: to find God's gifts in the midst of sickness and suffering; to find God's light in the darkness; God's voice in the silence and to proclaim the gospel in more than words.

What Is a Chaplain?

Chaplains are clinically trained clergy who offer a religious ministry to special groups, such as a military unit, a ship, a hospital, a prison or a hospice. Chaplains support the Baptist Health System Mission by providing ministry that focuses on the spiritual and emotional needs of the patient, family and staff.

Baptist Health System chaplains offer a wide variety of services to healthcare professionals, clergy and others.

What Do Chaplains Do?

In crisis situations, chaplains provide ministry to the family, respond to physician and nurse referrals promptly and act as a liaison between the family and hospital personnel. The prospect of surgery can be frightening for both the patient and family. Chaplains visit with patients about their hopes, anxieties, and concerns prior to surgery, visit with members of the patients family regarding their concern for their loved one and offer ongoing ministry to the patient and family during treatment and recovery. Chaplains offer bereavement ministry to family and friends when a loved one dies. Chaplains are available to provide pastoral support related to their loss and grief. BHS Chaplains encourage the involvement of congregations and clergy in the pastoral care of patients and family members. We seek to be allies with community caregivers and are available to assist others in their ministry to patients by:

  • Offering extensive training for ministry through our accredited Clinical Pastoral Education Program.  Notifying the appropriate church or clergy for patients who ask us to do so. Serving as a liaison between BHS hospitals and area churches.
  • Underlying these ministries are the ongoing services of Pastoral Care. On a regular basis, chaplains: Visit patients and families to offer pastoral care. Enable patients and families to draw upon spiritual resources to cope with the crisis of hospitalization and illness. Provide 24-hour availability of pastoral care. Offer support and encouragement to hospital personnel. Provide regular worship opportunities for patients, families and staff.

 When to Call a Chaplain


  • When seeking the comfort and strength of prayer.
  • When seeking encouragement through scripture and religious sacraments.
  • When facing questions about life and death.
  • When feeling distant from God.
  • When facing fear and anxiety.
  • When experiencing a loss of meaning and purpose.
  • When facing change or loss.
  • When an ethical dilemma arises.
  • When wanting to rejoice and give thanks.
  • When celebrating good news.
  • When questions or concerns about one's relationship to God arise.


 How to Contact a Chaplain


Patients may reach a chaplain by dialing "0." Outside the hospital, please dial the appropriate number listed below and ask for the chaplain on call:

Hospital Phone Number
Citizens Baptist (256) 362-8111
Princeton Baptist (205) 783-3000
Shelby Baptist (205) 620-8100
Walker Baptist (205) 387-4000

Pastoral Care Links

Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators

Association of Professional Chaplains

National Institute of Business and Industrial Chaplains

"Pastoral care is more a function than an activity, more a living relationship than a theory of interpretation, more a matter of being than doing. It is the manifestation in the relationship between pastor and persons, either individually or in groups, of a quality of love which points to, and gives a basis in experience for, the realization of the love of God."

From The Meaning of Pastoral Care by Carroll A. Wise
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