Drawing deep into wells of spirituality

Residents at Preston Community are enjoying exploring and sharing their spirituality at weekly discussion groups, where the spotlight is focused on religious as well as sacred topics.

Preston Community Chaplain Chris Turner, an Interfaith Minister, started the weekly groups which resonate with residents from a broad range of religious, spiritual, and secular beliefs.

So far the discussion groups have looked at motherhood, the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah and a Buddhist celebration, as well as sharing love stories. What’s still to come is the sacred music circle where music that has meaning to residents is played, looking at prophets and prophesies across different religions and taking care of yourself spiritually, physically and emotionally in aged care.

This is another example of spiritual care in action across our Uniting AgeWell sites. And during Spiritual Care Week from October 25 – 30, it is timeous to shine a light on all the good work that is being done.

American-born Chris, who started at Uniting AgeWell Preston Community three months ago, says the weekly group discussions are well attended. And with residents coming from all corners of the world, and embracing multiple religions and beliefs, Chris finds the group sessions are a celebration of spirituality.

“Some people embrace traditional religion, others don’t. Some find their spirituality in other ways, stemming back to their set of beliefs, customs and traditions,” Chris says. “And it’s a wonderful, safe meeting place where they can open up and share their deep feelings and experiences, and draw on the common well of humanity and kindness.”

Chris moved to the Lucky Country to be with his Australian wife about a decade ago. He used to work in community development and says he has always been drawn to working with older people. “And working here four days a week means I have the ability to connect on a deep level with residents. It’s a privilege to be able to share their inner journey, to connect with them about what gives the inner-longing in their souls both meaning and purpose.”

And Chris says residents who normally don’t attend the church services at the site, are turning up for the weekly group meetings. “I don’t preach, I don’t dominate the discussion, I’m simply there to facilitate it,” Chris says. “And the stories and insights that they share are pretty profound.”

Chris says the need for this group was heighted by lockdown and the raft of uncertainty and fear around the pandemic.

“Residents are unable to meet with their families – this is a time of worry, of uncertainty. And now more than ever they are drawing deep into the wells of their spirituality,” he says.

Uniting AgeWell offers care that respects personal choice and individual expressions of spirituality, and encourages connectedness and community. A variety of opportunities are provided to encourage the finding of meaning, purpose, connectedness, hope, and to transcend loss.

Read more chaplain stories and find out more about Spiritual Care Week