We are thrilled to welcome you to our Q&A series, where we will be shining a spotlight on our extraordinary chaplains at Cassia. Through their unwavering support and compassionate presence, our chaplains provide comfort and guidance to our residents, their families and our staff.
In this installment, we are honored to feature Pastor Erik Doughty, who serves as a “Chaplain on the Go” for Cassia communities that include Chapel View; St. Paul’s Home Apartments; Thomas T. Feeney Manor; Heritage Park; and Open Circle of Apple Valley, Hopkins and Minneapolis.
Join us as we delve into Pastor Doughty’s approach to chaplaincy and explore the vital importance of spiritual care in our communities.
Q: What inspired you to become a chaplain?
A: “I never really set out to be a chaplain but I decided to explore the idea by doing a chaplain residency in a hospital and I unexpectedly enjoyed it!
Q: What do you do as a “Chaplain on the Go?”
A: Twenty hours of my week are at Chapel View. For them, I do a weekly communion service, a weekly hymn sing, visits with residents and staff support.
Then, every Monday, I am at Thomas T. Feeney Manor, a Minneapolis Public Housing site that Cassia manages. For them I have done “chat with a chaplain” (where I sit in the lobby and people come find me for conversations) or sometimes I have done memorial services for residents, stuff like that.
Every Thursday I am at one of our three Open Circle (Adult Day) sites. Each of the sites has its own culture and personality. Sometimes I do Circle of Prayer (prayer requests from the people there that day); sometimes it is a presentation (for example, about a recent holiday or spiritual practice); sometimes it is a short worship service or hymn sing.
In December 2023, I did a presentation and discussion starting with the “12 Days of Christmas,” but also touching on how the Puritans pushed back against Christmas revelry, and how Christmas was not necessarily a time to rejoice for enslaved people in our country, in those times. And how the older we get, the more nuance, the more layers, the more complexity our celebration has, with both sorrows and joys.
Q: How do you provide spiritual and emotional support to residents?
A: At Chapel View, I lead a hymn sing on Tuesdays and I prepare and lead a communion service, complete with sermon, every Wednesday. I also meet with people one-on-one. At other sites I might prepare an educational presentation, do one-to-one visits, lead memorial services, or just converse with residents and get to know their stories.
Q: What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
A: 1 John 4:16b: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” I like that verse because a lot of people can find themselves some space to exist within it.
Q: How do you provide support to residents who may not have a specific religious or spiritual belief system?
A: I take very seriously that people know their own selves and what works for their spirituality (however they define it). If I ask someone what gives them strength and hope and they say “Fishing with my grandkids,” or “Golfing with my long-time friends,” I believe them! Then we can converse together about how they might access that strength even if they can no longer do the physical parts of that.
Q: How has your work as a chaplain impacted your own spiritual and personal growth?
A: I have a lot of friends who are skeptical about the idea of God. And every so often I am, too. But in the work I do, I so often witness or hear of really amazing ways that wonderful stuff, beyond coincidence, happens in people’s lives and I attribute that to God “always working for good” in people’s lives. It has made me convinced that God is often working behind the scenes of our lives in good ways, and also it has given me the impression that God definitely has a sense of humor.
Thank you, Pastor Erik Doughty, for everything you have done for our residents, their families and our staff!