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 Keith Carlson, Chaplain at Lakeside Generations in Dassel. Join us as we delve into Pastor Carlson’s approach to chaplaincy and explore the vital importance of spiritual care in our communities.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to become a chaplain?
A: I grew up on a farm in north central Kansas and met my wife, Sue, when at North Park Seminary in Chicago. We have three children and three grandchildren. All but one son lives in the Dassel/Cokato area. I love to attend my grandchildren’s activities, attend area baseball games, do landscaping around the house, gardening and finding any excuse to start and drive my 1947 2N Ford tractor.
I am a retired pastor who served for 40 years with the Evangelical Covenant Church. Most recently I served for 24 years as the lead Pastor at the Evangelical Covenant Church in Dassel and previously in the communities of Lake Bronson and Lancaster, MN; Albert City IA; and New Richland, MN.
I have served in part-time chaplain ministries with Ecumen of Litchfield as a Hospice chaplain and a resident chaplain. I also briefly served in 2022 as the interim pastor for Lamson Evangelical Free church here in Dassel. I also serve as Chaplain for the Dassel Fire Department.
When I retired after 40 years of pastoral ministry, I looked for opportunities that fit with my gifts and experience. I have always enjoyed visitation ministry and a chaplain role seemed to fulfil the calling in my heart.
Q: What led you to become a chaplain at Lakeside Generations?
A: I started as chaplain here at Lakeside in Dassel on January 1st of this year. I applied for this position when I became aware that it was open because I have served in the Dassel community, as pastor for more than 24 years. I have many connections with both staff and residents because of that history. I enjoy continuing to serve them in Jesus’ name.
Q: How do you provide spiritual and emotional support to residents at Lakeside Generations?
A: Here at Lakeside Generations we provide Bible studies and weekly chapel services visitation with the residents. Also at special times of the year – Advent, Lent – we have weekly Vespers Services.
Q: What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
A: My Life Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
At a formative moment of decision in my life, this verse became the key to making a decision to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It was not long after that moment that I felt a call to pastoral ministry.
My Ministry Verse: John 10:10b ESV
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
These words of Jesus from the Gospel of John came me and have continued to define my purpose. Over 40 years ago, in the summer of 1978 as I began serving, I felt a need to define why the Lord has called me to serve as a pastor. It has been my goal to live the “abundant” life the Lord has offered to me and to invite others to do so as well.
Q: In what ways do you help residents stay connected to their religious or spiritual communities outside of Lakeside Generations?
A: Weekly chapel services: Local Pastors/Churches are scheduled weekly throughout the year to bring spiritual nurture to residents.
Local Ministerial meetings and services: As Chaplain, I participate in these opportunities representing Lakeside Generations. Local Churches have asked how they might support the ministry at Lakeside Generations as volunteers and financially.
Community Celebrations: Lakeside Generations has participated in the annual Red Rooster weekend community celebration held on Labor Day weekend.
Q: How do you collaborate with other staff members to ensure residents’ spiritual needs are being met?
A: Family Care meetings: I have been included in some of the family meetings to review the care the resident is receiving and also how the resident is interacting with others. I have found it to be helpful to have family share background information about residents that they have not revealed. It also helps to create a broader base for spiritual care with the resident and their loved ones. Recently, because of such a meeting, we have been encouraged to develop resources for those who have experienced loss. We hope to create some grief support groups for both the Assisted Living facility and the Nursing Home residents.
Q: Can you share an example of how you have helped a resident find peace and comfort during a difficult time?
A: Recently there was a sudden passing of a resident at a time when I as chaplain was present. We gathered in the resident’s room with the roommate and the roommate’s family as well as other resident friends and many of the staff and Hospice staff to share a brief bedside service.
It was a precious moment that allowed for residents and staff to shared fond memories as well as provide scripture, prayer, and a hymn. This was a special moment for the roommate because he had given very special attention to his friend and had shared a friendship with him for many years prior to being a resident in the home. Following the bedside service the staff provided a “dignity” walk as the funeral director removed the deceased.
Thank you, Pastor Keith Carlson, for everything you have done for our residents, their families, and our staff at Lakeside Generations!