It's been about three years since has had a chaplain that could minister to the residents there.
That will all change the first week of September, when the Rev. Lindsey Halpern-Givens starts her role as Winchester House's new chaplain.
"I think it is an important role," said Halpern-Givens. "I think there's so much need."
It will be a part-time role for Halpern-Givens that will be underwritten annually by the Waukegan-based Ralph J. Smith Foundation, Inc. Local churches will help fund the remainder of Halpern-Givens' salary.
"Winchester House has a special place in the hearts of many local congregations," said Pastor Steve Williams of the , which headed up the efforts to find a new chaplain.
"(Halpern-Givens) is just great," said Williams. "She will be a chaplain to the residents and staff. She's a world-class chaplain."
The Crystal Lake resident holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University, a Master of Divinity from Meadville/Lombard Theological School, a Master of Education from Illinois State University and a Bachelor of Science in Music.
She works in a number of roles, including as a relationship coach, a counseling associate at Evergreen Park Care and Counseling Center, and the senior minister at Faith Community United Church of Christ in Prairie Grove.
Previously, she served as the pastoral care facilitator at Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington and as a staff chaplain at Memorial Medical Center in Woodstock.
Halpern-Givens said she was introduced to Winchester House through the previous chaplain and once covered a Palm Sunday service for her there years ago.
"I was looking for another part-time position and it just intrigued me," she said of becoming the new chaplain.
"I look at ministry in a couple of ways. I've been hospice chaplain, a hospital chaplain and a church minister," said Halpern-Givens. "When you're in a hospital, you are intersecting with a person for a very brief moment in time. It's an important role that you have, and you want to be there for them, but you don't oftentimes get to know the outcome or how they are."
Winchester House, however, will be more like a parish.
"I kind of get to have the best of both," she said.
During her first week at Winchester House, Halpern-Givens plans to spend whole days on-site, learning what life is like there and getting to know the residents. She plans to add worship services and see if residents are interested in having Bible study sessions.
"I really am interested to know what the residents want," she said.
There will be time for both one-on-one and group sessions with residents.
"Most long-term facilities could benefit by having a chaplain there," said Halpern-Givens. Whether the residents have been living independently and are adjusting to life in the facility, or they just have spiritual questions, she will be there to help.
"I'm really excited about it," said Halpern-Givens. "I love what I do, so I want to bring some of that enthusiasm to Winchester House."
Now on sabbatical and working on her doctoral project, Halpern-Givens said "it's a privilege to be in people's lives, to marry them, to minister to their needs, to baptize their babies, to minister at their memorial services."
She also enjoys the opportunities to meet with people of various faiths and backgrounds.
"Your own faith grounds you, and then you learn so much," she said. "I sometimes feel like I'm the lucky one because I get to know other people's faith traditions, so really I walk away richer."
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