By Kristen Miller
MEEKER COUNTY, MN - To recognize the importance of a patient’s spiritual healing along with his or her physical and mental healing a non-denominational chapel became a top priority in the Meeker Memorial Hospital expansion and remodel.
When plans began for the recently expanded Meeker Memorial Hospital, the 18-year absence of its own chapel became apparent, according to Mike Boyle, executive director of the Meeker Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The new chapel, which is expected to be completed by mid-October, was designed with all of the hospital’s current and future patients, staff, and visitors in mind, regardless of their faith.
“It’s intended to be more of a private meditation area,” Boyle said of the chapel.
Hospital board member and Evangelical Covenant Church Pastor Keith Carlson is very appreciative that a county hospital recognizes the need for a spiritual center.
“I’m very excited to see it happening,” Carlson said.
He is also very appreciative to the Litchfield Area Ministerial Association, which has been very instrumental in the design and concept of the hospital chapel.
The theme of the chapel is “Embracing Family Wellness- Nurturing Spiritual Wholeness,” and it was designed with tranquil features such as a fountain, altar, and stained glass window.
A place of spiritual support
To find ways to improve communication and provide pastoral support to its patients, a letter was sent out to the 43 area churches within a 20-mile radius of the hospital asking for ideas.
Communication will be ongoing with the hospital and the area churches, according to Boyle.
He anticipates the chapel being a place of personal reflection, not only for patients of the hospital, but visitors and staff, as well.
After all, hospitals are a place where happy things happen, like a birth or a successful surgery, Boyle explained.
Hospitals are also a place where sad things happen, and the chapel will be a place of spiritual support, he said.
The chapel will also be a private meeting place with pastors, Boyle said.
Though the chapel was designed to not offend traditions and beliefs of community members, there will be resources available for specific religious ceremonies.
A window of peace and hope
The focal point of the chapel is the 4-foot by 6-foot stained glass window made by Gary Terharr of TerHaar Studios in Cold Spring.
The design includes a dove, which has spiritual or secular (holy ghost) meaning.
A circle of life around the dove represents the world, and lines through it represent peacefulness, healing, prayer, and hope.
There are also earthly symbols of winter, spring, summer, and fall, representing the seasons of life.
The window was paid for by Johnson-Hagglund Funeral Home of Litchfield as a gift to the community and the hospital.
The remaining cost of the new chapel is $67,000, which the hospital would like to see paid for through contributions from individuals or church communities.
The hospital has received support from the ministerial and church communities thus far.
“It’s a joint feeling of support. It gives [pastors] an avenue to help support their people in times of need,” Boyle said.
“I commend the board for making this a top priority. [They found it] very important to recognize the spiritual health and wellness in our whole scheme of the health care system,” Boyle said.
“It’s a real reflection of who we are as a community,” he added.