Chaplain's Corner

Welcome Lydia Summerville

  • Larry Hirst, Author
  • Retired Chaplain, Bethesda Place

It is hard to believe that in a number of days I will no longer be the chaplain at Bethesda Regional Health Centre. It seems like just a short while ago that I came to Bethesda to begin this work. But God has made it clear to me in a number of different ways that it is time for this chapter of my life to come to an end.

The public announcement has been made about my replacement and I have the privilege of telling you a bit about her. Beginning June 4th, Miss Lydia Summerville began a month of orientation getting ready to serve as Bethesda’s second full time professional chaplain. As in any profession, preparation is essential and preparation takes place formally as well as informally. Lydia is well prepared on both accounts.

Informally, Lydia grew up in a Christian home and has faithfully attended and been involved in two churches in our community, Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church and Southland Church. As a child Lydia accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and has grown in His grace coming to not only understand, but thoroughly embrace the Christian faith. Lydia was home educated and has spent many years developing her voice and is an accomplished vocalist.

Her formal education is extensive. After finishing grade 12, Lydia attended Providence College where she earned a BA in Biblical Theology and Social Sciences. After Bible College she attended Providence Seminary and earned an MA in Global Studies. A few years later Lydia attended Tyndale Theological Seminary and earned an MTS with a certificate in Spiritual Formation. Lydia has taken further specialized studies in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) through the University of Winnipeg Faculty of Theology both at the Riverview Health Centre and St. Boniface Hospital finishing two basic units of CPE (24 additional Masters level credit hours).

Lydia has had a number of cross cultural experiences in Ireland, Scotland, England, Israel, Spain and Mexico exposing herself to these cultures and developing an appreciation for people of other cultures, languages and experiences. This has contributed to a broadening of her perspectives and a widening of her capacity to minister effectively to many different people.

Lydia began sensing the call of God to chaplaincy ministry for the last three or four years. This awareness developed as she worked at Resthaven as a grounds keeper and began volunteering Resthaven and serving as a spiritual care volunteer at Bethesda Hospital and Place. Lydia also worked as a paid companion for various residents at Resthaven. Lydia applied to take Clinical Pastoral education to help affirm this calling. Having taken 4 units of CPE myself, I know that it is a very challenging educational experience that throws a person right into the work of chaplaincy then helps you confront the challenges and obstacles that would hinder your work in this field. Lydia has successfully complete two units of CPE with a deepening awareness that the ministry of chaplaincy is where the Lord wants her serve at this time.

As one who has experienced your acceptance, love and wonderful support I look forward to hearing about how Lydia has experienced that same acceptance, love and support as she takes on the challenging work of Chaplaincy at Bethesda. Lydia was one of 12 that applied for the position and after the review of all the applications, five of the applicants were interviewed. The interview committee unanimously agreed that Lydia was the person most qualified for and God’s provision for Bethesda’s next chaplain. Join me in welcoming and supporting Bethesda Regional Health Centre’s new chaplain, Lydia Summerville. May she have a long and significant ministry as she serves our regional health center providing spiritual care and support to the residents and patients, their families and the staff of Bethesda Place and Bethesda Hospital.

Chaplain's Corner was written by Bethesda Place now retired chaplain Larry Hirst. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer and do not represent the views or opinions of people, institutions or organizations that the writer may have been associated with professionally.