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 Douglas Conrad, Chaplain at Harmony Gardens in Maplewood, MN. Join us as we delve into Pastor Conrad’s approach to chaplaincy and explore the vital importance of spiritual care in our communities.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to become a chaplain?
A: “My inspiration in becoming a chaplain comes from my inspiration to being a pastor. My dad was a pastor who influenced me in becoming a pastor. I saw firsthand growing up how he cared for others, helping them in many practical ways as well as spiritual ways.
With that background I wasn’t interested in becoming a pastor when I graduated from high school. Truth be told I wanted to be a famous musician. Obviously that didn’t happened but on my road to that goal, I found myself at Colorado Christian University. At the time a very small school, which is exactly what I needed. It was there that the Bible really came alive in my life, thanks to Dr. Frank Ames. I realized that the Bible could be excited and fun to study. My passion to help others in their knowledge and understanding of the Bible began there and hasn’t stopped.
After college I was on staff as Worship Pastor for a few years until my wife and I went to Japan to serve as missionaries. Japan was where I grew up. We were able to join my parents at the last church they help plant in Japan. We spent 12 years (not consecutive) in Japan as church planting missionaries with ReachGlobal (the mission of the EFCA). During that time we adopted our three children, now young adults.
Q: What led you to become a chaplain at Harmony Gardens?
A: A few years after returning in 2010, Ed Bender (former head of Spiritual Life for Elim Care) a member of one of our supporting churches approached me about Chaplain work. To be honest I had no idea of what he was talking about. In 2015 I took the job at Elim Shores, in Eden Praire, MN. After almost 2 years there I transferred over to St. Paul at New Harmony and now I am at Harmony Gardens in Maplewood.
Still love music and was able to put out a CD in 2017. Lately I have been into publishing books. I have a series I call Real Large Print Bibles, they are available on Amazon. A few days ago I released my first content book called “The Multi-faced Bride of Christ” also available on Amazon.
Q: How to do you provide spiritual and emotional support to residents at Harmony Gardens?
A: I love being a chaplain at Harmony Gardens! I have the joy of providing spiritual support and care to the residents through, Bible Studies, worship times and personal visits. It is wonderful to have a beautiful chapel that invites all people to come and spend time with God. We have seen workers come early to work so they can spend some quiet time in the chapel. We have seen family members come with their loved one and pray together. We have seen residents come and spend time in the chapel.
Q: What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
A: One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 John 1:9. I need the reminder that God promises to forgive if we confess. Not only do I need that my residents need to be reminded of that too. There is nothing that God won’t forgive, if we confess.
Q: Can you share a particularly memorable experience you’ve had as a chaplain at Harmony Gardens?
A: One example of how I have seen a resident impacted by my ministry is a man that reads the Bible. Each week he reads a chapter or two on Fridays for anyone who wants to come and listen. I also record his reading at another time and broadcast it on our in house TV. This has been going on for over 3 years and I have seen the growth in this man. He used to have severe depression but hasn’t had that for a long time. Each day he reads his Bible and practices for his reading time. He has grown in his knowledge but also in his passion for God’s word. He even calls a former resident each week and reads to her over the phone. It is a joy to see his spiritual growth.
Q: How has your work as a chaplain at Harmony Gardens impacted your own spiritual and personal growth?
A: Personally I have seen growth in how I interact with death and dying. I certainly have dealt with this issue much more in this ministry context. I believe it has helped me gain a good perspective on life. It has made me more eternally focused.”
Thank you, Pastor Douglas Conrad, for everything you have done for our residents, their families and our staff at Harmony Gardens!