Chaplain’s Corner: Preparation

By Sarah Sexton | Publish Date February 15, 2024

Thirty years ago, when I was an associate pastor at Independent Presbyterian Church, I told the other clergy on the staff that being the chaplain at Kirkwood was the best job in the world. I never expected to be that chaplain.

I was 53 years old when I was first called to be the pastor of a church. Before that, I had been an associate pastor at several churches. I had been a hospital chaplain and a pastoral counselor in different settings. When I was called to be the pastor of that church, now over twenty years ago, I wondered if God knew that I need all of those years of experience to get me ready to be a solo pastor (and later, head of staff).

Now, I am having similar thoughts about becoming the chaplain at Kirkwood. Perhaps in God’s time, being 75 years old is the right age to be the chaplain at Kirkwood. Maybe the right age for me to be the chaplain at Kirkwood.

I am thankful to the Board of Kirkwood, the administration, and the residents. I still believe that I have the best job in the world. I love the positive, cheerful attitude of the staff and residents. I look forward to getting up in the mornings and being able to go to work. I also look forward to getting to know the residents and their families.

I have begun new jobs as the season of Advent began. I have begun new jobs the day after Labor Day. I have never begun a new job with the season of Lent. Lent is a time of preparation. I believe there is something special in the timing of my new beginning at Kirkwood. I am guessing that it will have something to do with preparing me.




For reflection:

How are you preparing your hearts and minds for this Lenten season?

How have you been prepared by Christ for your current roles?

When have you experienced God’s perfect timing?


The Residents

Our residents come from different backgrounds and bring their unique qualities, talents, and life experiences to complete the Kirkwood community. Here are just a few reflections from some individuals who call Kirkwood their home.

My time at Kirkwood was spectacular; they taught me how to walk again. The staff was outstanding, and the care was beyond reproach. When I arrived, I had a long way to go. I was very sick. The first night, they had to lift me as I could not move by myself. When I left, they were chasing me down the hallway. They taught me how to perform the activities of daily living again. It was the best care I could have prayed for, and on top of that, the food was spectacular.

Eli Gold Past Resident

I fell in love with the cottage and the view from my back porch. I am excited to have a yard for Ginger, my poodle, to play in and my own garage, all within an established retirement community!

Charlotte Hamilton Current Resident

My husband and I looked at a number of places when deciding to move to a retirement community. For the most part, we found communities that said, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’ But Kirkwood was different. It wasn’t just about taking care of us. It was also about having fun, having friends, and living life to the fullest. The attitude at Kirkwood was positive and the atmosphere was comforting. We simply couldn’t resist. Without a doubt, the location was ideal. The Cahaba Room that overlooks the river, the mountains, the trails – there were just so many things about life. The community was lively. It was alive.

Alice Brooks Current Resident

We realized we were approaching an age where we might need more assistance than what just downsizing could provide. Knowing we have my sons nearby and the levels of care should we need it is comforting, and the beautiful hillside, river, and the woods makes it that much more appealing. We don’t know of any other community that has the woods, the various levels of care, and so many different amenities.

Phyllis and John Guschke Current Residents

We were moving my parents down from the Cleveland area to be near us. I looked at almost every retirement place in the Birmingham area. The second I turned into Kirkwood’s drive and drove up the hill, I knew that I’d found the perfect place for my parents to live in Alabama. In the six years that my parents have been at Kirkwood, I have always felt nothing but love and helpfulness from every staff member. Everyone is always helpful with a pleasant attitude. You can truly see and feel the family atmosphere. I’m happy that my parents can call Kirkwood their home.

Brenda Sheehan Kirkwood family member

When we learned that Cedar Ridge was being developed, that seemed to fit our needs very well. It is the ideal place for the next phase of our retirement.

Carol and Arthur Stephens Current Residents

One thing that we feel is very important here at Kirkwood by the River is the relationship that we have between the staff and the residents. They are dedicated to making our life here as safe and secure and pleasurable as possible. That goes a long way.

Fred Rogers Current Resident

The community's cottage living surrounded by a wooded, natural environment with access to future healthcare services is what attracted us to Kirkwood!

Rick and Jane Ricketts Current Residents