Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Telephone Call That Changed my Life

In the spring of 1989 I was sitting in my office at College Hill Presbyterian Church when a call came in from Dr. Emmett Cooper, Medical Director of Emerson North Psychiatric Hospital next door to the church. Emerson North was an old hospital that had been bought and completely rebuilt as a Psychiatric Hospital by the Franciscan Sisters.

I did not know Dr. Cooper but I did know the hospital and we had been told several times before the Sisters bought it that we could not pray with the Patients there lest we get them to agitated and filled with "Religious Ideation".

As you can imagine, I was somewhat nervous about his call, wondering if one of our Lay Helpers had been praying for the Patients again. Our church had dozens of Lay Pastors and Lay Care Givers who regularly visited the sick and infirm at home, in hospitals and nursing homes.

He was very serious and asked me to come over to visit him at Emerson North. I was even more nervous, but agreed and made an appointment.

I sat down in his very nice office and after offering me a drink, he said, "Dr. Sweeten, I understand you can teach Psychiatrists and Nurses how to integrate prayer and faith into Therapy. Is that right?"

I was befuddled. Where had he heard that? So, I answered cautiously. "Dr. Cooper, do the Psychiatrists want to know how to integrate faith and prayer into their treatment?" He said with a smile, "Probably not". I said, "Then I can't teach them if they do not want to learn."

Then he mentioned that the law required Psychiatric Hospitals to develop better relationships with the community and he was informed by one of the Doctors that many Patients needed to have treatment that included prayer and faith and that I was the only person he knew who could do that.

That is how the whole thing about founding an in-patient clinic called Life Way Counseling Centers started. Next, the rest of the story.

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