Don McPherson: His mission in chaplaincy
Don McPherson recently retired after 16 years as the head of Carinity’s chaplaincy and mission services across Queensland. We spoke with Don about his achievements in chaplaincy.
What were your work/career roles before joining Carinity?
I was a mechanical engineer in Central Queensland’s coal mines, in maintenance then project work. Then I trained for the ministry, served in a number of Queensland Baptist Churches and on QB’s ministerial credentials committee. I also did some lecturing at the Queensland Baptist College.
Did experiences when you were younger inspire you to work in the chaplaincy field?
I was always inspired and blessed when leaders got involved with people at grass roots. I wanted to become like Jesus, and chaplaincy reminds me of Him so much, leaving his ‘safe’ place and ministering with people ‘at the coal face’.
What were your roles at Carinity?
started in hospitals and aged care, visiting, responding to pastoral needs, facilitating worship, and leading a team of other chaplains. There’s always great reward for me in working with people personally but just as surely, when one sees a wider need, it’s really satisfying to grow a team to meet it. In 2016 we embraced prison chaplaincy – a huge undertaking. I’ve sought to equip the wider organisation with pastorally aware approaches consistent with Carinity’s Christian foundations and helped to place chaplains in our schools.
How can chaplains impact the lives of others?
When people are in hospital or other care, everyone seems time-pressured and patients feel alone and ‘processed’. The chaplain goes to be with the person during their experience. If the person expresses a need to connect with spiritual resources, chaplains assist. I marvel how people so consistently open up when I say, “Hi, I’m a chaplain – how are you going?” Chaplains give prayerful, personal presence and respond to people’s felt needs.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievements at Carinity?
Sustaining a team of volunteers plus some paid roles over the years was a challenge. I loved introducing then facilitating the spiritual awareness training for our aged and home care staff. I’m so proud of the chaplains’ role in our residential aged care communities all through COVID! As well as keeping hospital doors open to chaplaincy, we had decisive input to firstly having chaplaincy at the new children’s hospital and then in having a chapel included and providing input on its design.
Read more stories from Belong: Autumn 2022 | Edition 25