Spiritual Life

Headshot of Pastor Jay Ludwig

The Chaplain’s Voice: Q&A With our Chaplains- Pastor Jay Ludwig

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 Jay Ludwig, Chaplain at Cornerstone Assisted Living in Plymouth, MN. Join us as we delve into Pastor Jay’s approach to chaplaincy and explore the vital importance of spiritual care in our communities.

A: “After serving as a Children’s Pastor for over 20 years, I felt the Lord speak to my heart one day saying that the focus of my ministry was going to change from children to seniors. This was a very unexpected thought, but as I shared it with family and friends they encouraged me to pursue ministry to seniors.

I spoke with the Spiritual Life directors of three different faith-based senior living organizations, and all three said that my experience with children would serve me well in working with seniors. I then volunteered for six months at Redeemer Health Care Center in Minneapolis. Under Chaplain John Carlson’s patient and skillful mentoring, I realized that ministering to seniors was a good fit for me. I then enrolled in 18 months of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which was very helpful in making the transition from congregational ministry with children to chaplaincy with seniors.

A: One of the Spiritual Life directors I spoke with early on in learning about ministry to seniors was Dave Kiel, who at the time was the Vice President of Spiritual Life for Elim Care, later to merge with Augustana Care and become Cassia.

We kept in touch during my CPE training and, as I was approaching the end of my last CPE Unit, I contacted him to ask if there might be any openings. He told me that just that day one of the chaplains had given notice that he was retiring. Dave encouraged me to apply for the position and, about a month later, I was hired at Cornerstone Assisted Living in Plymouth, MN, and began serving there in June 2021.

A: Each week in both Memory Care and Assisted Living, I have the privilege of leading a Bible study, a hymn sing and Sunday services. In Assisted Living, we also have Bible games once a week and we tie fleece blankets twice a month to donate to the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and Bridging. I also lead a Guys Group once a week and a game time on Sunday afternoons to encourage our residents to build friendships and combat loneliness.

I also like to serve beverages during our breakfast and lunch meals, which gives me the opportunity to “check in” with residents. They will sometimes ask for a personal visit, or the nursing staff will ask me to visit residents who are struggling emotionally. I also make a point to visit our residents when they first move in to Cornerstone, and if they are hospitalized or in a rehab center. 

A: My favorite Scripture passage is Matthew 20:25-28:  “But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”

A: At our weekly manager meetings and in one-on-one chats with managers we often talk about the emotional and spiritual needs of our residents. The perspective and insights of the other managers are very helpful in assessing the emotional and spiritual needs of our residents and how I might offer them emotional and spiritual support.

A: One of our residents who was disabled and whose health was declining, told me that though he was an avid Minnesota Twins fan, he had never attended one of their games. As I was keen to see a Twins home game that summer, I asked if he would like to join me at a game. He immediately said yes and we started making plans. When game day arrived, we packed up a wheelchair in my car for him and we both had a wonderful time at the ballpark.

A: I have grown spiritually through the preparation I’ve done for the many Bible studies and worship services I’ve led. Also, the testimonies and encouragement I’ve received from our faithful residents each week has often lifted my spirits and inspired me to serve the Lord at Cornerstone to the best of my ability as I lean into God’s abundant grace.”

Thank you, Pastor Jay Ludwig, for everything you have done for our residents, their families and our staff at Cornerstone Assisted Living!